Non-sexual abuse survivors often ignored, dismissed
Anglican Watch, the online watchdog for the Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Survivors Network, an advocacy group for victims of abuse, today joined in calling for the Episcopal Church to repent of its role in ignoring and tacitly condoning abuse.
“We are asking the Episcopal Church to do four things:
- Take all reports of abuse seriously, not just sexual and financial misconduct.
- Adopt policies making bullying, harassment, abuse of power, and other non-sexual abuse actionable under the disciplinary canons.
- Stop trying to discredit victims of non-sexual abuse by calling them ‘disgruntled,’ ‘unbalanced,’ ‘dysfunctional,’ or even ‘domestic terrorists.’
- Repent and making restitution for its role in tacitly approving of these behaviors. The healing process should include disclosure and contacting persons who have left the church over its refusal to address non-sexual misconduct.
“Far too often, the church ignores sexual and non-sexual abuse by clergy,” says Anglican Watch editor Eric Bonetti. “We hear from countless victims, from current and former church headquarters staff to clergy and laypersons.
“Often, the church’s response further traumatizes victims. In one case, the bishop diocesan brushed off the victim of sexual abuse by her rector by telling her, ‘I’ll be praying for you,’ even as he urged her to quit telling her story. He then went on to serve at the Virginia Theological Seminary with no consequences for his misconduct.
Bonetti continues, “In another situation, multiple bishops told a victim of criminal conduct by his rector that he should go to court to solve his concerns. That is unconscionable.
“Even worse, the church does not recognize the lasting suffering it causes, including major depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation. Instead, it just says, ‘That happened before I got here,’ or ‘well, that clergyperson isn’t here anymore.’ Those excuses don’t cut it.
“Nor does the Episcopal church welcome truthtellers,” Bonetti adds. “Yet if it were not for prophetic voices, the church would still support slavery and lost causism. It is time for the church to repent, make reparations, and turn from its collective sin.”
Analyses by Anglican Watch identify abuse in all dioceses, with several dioceses actively covering up clergy misconduct. These dioceses include:
- New Jersey
- Los Angeles
Additionally, the church headquarters has a long history of abusive behavior going back decades. Meanwhile, the office of the presiding bishop consistently ignores complaints about bishops diocesan who tacitly approve of misconduct.
Bonetti concludes, “The sad thing is that diocesan officials see exposing these issues as wrongdoing. But if the church is true to its mission, those who expose misconduct are doing the church a favor.”
Anglican Watch is the unofficial online watchdog publication for the Episcopal Church. Launched in 2015, Anglican Watch covers sexual and non-sexual misconduct in the church. An all-volunteer nonprofit, the publication shares several staffers with the Episcopal Survivors Network.
The Episcopal Survivors Network is a nonprofit advocacy group for survivors of sexual and non-sexual abuse, emphasizing current and former members of the Episcopal Church.
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