Monday, September 20, 2010
It isn't just the Catholics . . .
In the early 1980's I was at my parents' home and answered the phone . . . the caller was the Youth Pastor at the local Baptist church looking for my Dad . . . one of the local attorneys and an Elder at our Presbyterian Church . . . the pastor was calling to report that a teenager -- a boy, had accused our pastor of molestation . . . I was in my 20's . . . it was the first time I had heard of a minister sexually abusing any one . . . more than three decades later it is way too common to hear about this if we have ears . . . unfortunately, though, it has been my experience that the institutional Church, whether Catholic or any other brand protects the accused and damn the victim(s).
Sunday this came back to haunt me . . . I belong to a group on Face Book from my hometown where we share memories . . . about two months ago someone posted about this occurrence . . . I ignored the post . . . I went to the site on Sunday afternoon and he had posted again . . . this time I "heard" his plaintive plea for someone to hear him . . . so I responded by sending him a message.
He is grown now . . . living on the West Coast . . . successful but still wounded . . . we sent back several messages . . . it brought back so many questions I had at the time . . . it appears he was not the only one . . . the others have died of AIDS . . . I am not sure how many . . . I couldn't bring myself to ask . . . not yet.
Nothing was done after that telephone conversation . . . not that people didn't try, but the boy wouldn't testify in church court . . . he told me this weekend he was ashamed . . . he didn't want his family to know what happened . . . but the minister must have known . . . he left shortly after that to pastor another smaller membership church in a neighboring state. One of the Deacons of the church who reportedly saw what happened left without warning . . . just didn't show up one day for work -- he was a school teacher.
Years later I heard through the grapevine that the minister and his wife had both died of AIDS.
My heart grieves for anyone who has been victimized, but especially those who have been sexually victimized by men and women who are allowed to hide behind the cloth . . . when will the Church be willing to stand for those who had/have no power . . . when will we be their voice . . . when will we offer them the grace of voice and healing? Please pray for this young man and those like him who have lost faith . . . who feel abandoned by God for what they endured and the silence of the Church.