Monday, July 12, 2010

Episcopal Church abuse case outed in PA: some observations

Regarding Bishop Davis

Current Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania is communicating with his diocese and the wider church about sexual abuse committed by his late predecessor, Donald Davis, and possibly kept secret by an intervening (also deceased) Bishop and even a past Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The letter is detailed and you can read it at the link. A few things I would observe:

- It's time to put a bullet in the head of that old "Roman Catholic Priests abuse because they are celibate" horse. This stuff happens in traditions with married clergy and even in permissive/promiscuous organizations like The Episcopal Church.

- The abuse revealed in the letter was perpetrated on young girls. Predators are predators, whether heterosexuals or homosexuals trying to "help young people explore love without society's hangups." Child molesters of whatever orientation, curiosity or fetish have all kinds of rationalizations and we fail kids when we stop to rub our chins and ponder predators' excuses.

- Predators go where there is prey. Yes, many find ample supply (and good concealment) in churches, but they do the same in education, sports, camping and any other venue that gets them trust and access.

- On a positive note, most (if not all) Episcopal Dioceses are requiring background checks and abuse prevention training for all employees and volunteers who work with children. My congregation has a parishioner put forward for ordination as a Deacon, and the Diocese of South Dakota has a law enforcement background check in progress. This is more and more common across denominations.

- As with all manifestations of evil, there are steps we can take to prevent it, but it can't be eradicated. Like all evil, it is driven by deep forces of deception and compulsion that aren't always stopped by rational thoughts about morality or even fear of consequences.

- Values and honesty are massively important in our responses. Be it a church, an LGBT movement, or whatever, cover ups to protect the "company name" or "tribe" taint many innocent people. The abuser's evil is magnified as secrecy, suspicion and sarcasm take the place of moral clarity and just action.


David Handy+ said...

Apt comments, Tim. I'm glad that the ugly truth is finally coming to light, even after 16 years. Alas, back in the early to mid 1990s, such coverups were pretty much standard operating procedure in most denominations.

TLF+ said...

That's a good observation, David+. Cover up used to be SOP in most churches.

It was the whole culture's way of doing business. Just look at how many movies revisit notorious old crimes under the assumption that they involved cover ups by "somebody in power."

Anonymous said...


The Episcopal Church represents itself as a hierarchial entity in suits against dissenters, so I guess if there are lawsuits and awards for damages 815 will have to pony up the tab incurred by the former PB(s).

TLF+ said...

Hey, Anonymous, now there's a thought. Those endless racks of vestments surely have some deep pockets!