An ancient text applied to a modern problem – clergy sexual abuse
The sad reality is that many victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse are abandoned and shunned by their faith communities.
As a result, some lose their faith in God. Others still have faith in God, but don’t have a supportive community in which to pray for one another’s needs, read and reflect on Scripture, and to worship God with others.
This morning, I read a text written about 100 years before the birth of Jesus which has some parallels to the situation of those separated from their faith communities today.
The Book of Daniel
In the Book of Daniel, located within the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), we meet Daniel and his companions who have been deported to Babylon.
In this foreign land, they are not able to practice their religion fully, but attempts are made to force them to adopt the ways of the Greeks.
Daniel and his friends , limited as they are in their then current circumstances, manage to keep some elements of their faith practices together.
The Spiritual Needs of Victims/Survivors
In the case of victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the unkind, sometimes slanderous words of some leaders and lay members of faith communities are responsible for the exile. Victim blaming is much easier than engaging in a profound conversion of one’s heart and intellect to accept the truth of abusive clergy.
Contributing to the forced exile are those members of faith communities who are happy to pray for victims/survivors individually or as a faith community, but are not willing to reach out to survivors to assess what their spiritual needs are, or how to make it emotionally safe to attempt to reconnect to their faith communities.
The Invitation to Gather in Small Faith Groups
Although a number of support groups exist for victims/survivors, most do not offer a spiritual support component.
Daniel and his friends had each other. Many victims/survivors have no one.
I pray that small faith groups will be formed for those victims/survivors who still want to practice their faith with others.
I myself am considering offering monthly Zoom meetings for those who would like to pray with Scripture in a small group.
Let’s not wait until faith community leaders reach out to us. For now, let’s reach out to one another and find new ways to connect to God together.