Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Lenten Commitment: "This Spiritual Atrocity of Abuse Will Not Be Done in My Name"

A quote from Ruth Krall's Elephants in God's Living Room series of online books, which, to my way of thinking, provides both a powerful theme for Lenten meditation and commitment and a gloss to Pope Francis's disappointing statement that the Catholic church has "done so much" to address child abuse by clerics:

What I found as I continued to educate myself about the role and work of anti-abuse activists was a kind of informed, constantly maturing idealism. I observed an unrelenting commitment to the needs and welfare of others. I witnessed a wide variety of victim helpers and advocates struggling to find their own pathway through the enchanted forests of violence and spiritual or political corruption. 
They were not individuals seeking to destroy the commons. They were not individuals seeking to overpower it. Rather, they wanted to make the commons safe again for everyone. Their personal sense of idealism and compassion seemed well-laced with political and social realism. Their anger at injustice done was righteous and pure. These were not naïve individuals. Nor, were they gullible. They had looked straight on at these complex issues of affinity violence and systemic corruption – both often done in God’s name - and, in essence, said, I do not agree. This spiritual atrocity of abuse will not be done in my name. This religious atrocity of institutional betrayal will not be done in my name. I refuse to be silent. I refuse to be complicit. I will speak up and I will act. I cast, therefore, my personal destiny with those who are abused. I will seek to be today’s Good Samaritan – helping those whom my institutional or denominational church has violated and then abandoned.

I do not agree. This spiritual atrocity of abuse will not be done in my name: these words sum up very well my response to Pope Francis's claim that my church has adequately addressed the sexual abuse of children by priests and others working in Catholic institutions.

I do not agree.

And I commit myself to challenging any halfway responses to the deeply entrenched problem of sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions, and to the obscene cover-up of this problem.

This spiritual atrocity of abuse will not be done in my name.

I commit myself as a follower of Christ to challenging evasive responses and halfway responses and the cover-up of abuse because those who have suffered this kind of abuse within the context of my church have a claim on my heart and my mind. They have such a claim on me because it is my church, too. It's my church as well as that of the pope and the bishops.

And I'm tired of seeing this spiritual atrocity of abuse done in my name.

Ruth Krall is a Mennonite theologian and therapist who has written a series of books available online,  with the title The Elephants in God's Living Room. Ruth has generously made her books available to anyone who wants to read them at her Enduring Space blog site. The quotation above is from the introduction (p. 11) to her latest volume (vol. 4) in the series, which is entitled Bearing the Unbearable: A Collection of Conversational Essays. The link to download this particular volume at Ruth's Enduring Space site.

(Later: readers of this posting have reported a problem with the links I had provided pointing to Ruth Krall's Enduring Space site. For that reason, I've removed them.)

No comments: