4 key takeaways from Catholic church scandals
    September 5 2018 by Layne Wallace

    A serious scandal has ensnared the Roman Catholic Church. Recently, credible accusations surfaced that a cardinal sexually abused and harassed seminarians and young priests decades ago, one of them being a minor at the time. Reports of other clergy misconduct cases have surfaced in Pennsylvania, Australia and Ireland.

    In recent weeks, a letter was published by a Vatican official claiming Pope Francis knew of the abuse and failed to act appropriately, possibly even helping to cover up clergy misconduct. One archbishop is even calling for the Pope’s resignation.
    While it is easy to look from our vantage point as Southern Baptists and believe we are immune from such scandal, our recent experience should teach us that we are not.
    In fact, here are four lessons we can learn from the horror affecting the Catholic church:
    1. No institution is safe from sexual predators.
    Sexual predators can be found in Christian institutions, schools and congregations. Refusing to face this reality only creates a compliant atmosphere for abuse. Once an individual is willing to admit that abuse can happen anywhere, then that person is obligated to prevent abuse from happening in his or her context.
    For those of us who lead local congregations, that means we are obligated to safeguard our congregations from sexual abuse. We can protect our people by doing background checks for child care workers, carefully screening volunteers and by making sure everyone knows that predatory behavior is unacceptable and will be reported immediately.
    2. Clergy appeared to protect themselves, not victims.
    We Baptists are quick to note the church is not primarily an institution; it is a people. We do not protect the church by covering up abuses to shield the institution. We protect the church by defending the innocent. When there are reports of abuse, our first instinct should be to root out abuse and to seek justice for the victims.
    3. Internal investigations tend to be unhelpful.
    When there are reports of abuse, external, independent investigations are more credible. Sadly, with each scandal of abuse that emerges in the church, the church’s word becomes less credible. For investigations to mean something, they need to be independent of the organization in which the allegations of abuse were made.
    4. Institutions, like the humans who build them, can become corrupt.
    We are to be people of prayer for our churches and partner organizations. We need to pray that leadership in our congregations will have the wisdom to see patterns of behavior before they become abusive. We need to pray that our congregations will be understanding of the additional steps needed for protection of the innocent. We need to pray that we can create congregational cultures in which abuse is not only rare, but nonexistent.
    There may yet be further reports of abuse in the Catholic church and more scandals to unfold. But we can be proactive to prevent future misconduct in Baptist life.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Layne Wallace is pastor of Rosemary Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.)

    9/5/2018 10:30:57 AM by Layne Wallace | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Catholic church, sexual abuse

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