Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How Much Is Silence Worth?

Well, in the case of the Vatican, apparently 660 million dollars.

That's how much it's going to cost the Roman Catholic Church to settle a case brought by 508 people who were sexually abused by priests over the past fifty years.

Think for a moment about how many people that might feed...or house...or provide health services for.

Think for a moment about how those 500 people and their wives, husbands, partners, and children have suffered.

Think how much the Vatican doesn't want Bishop Mahoney to have to testify in public about why these priests were simply moved to another parish rather than being removed from service completely...rather than being required to get help and to be held accountable.

The Vatican said on Monday that they are now committed to ending this problem. They also said in their release that other institutions have this problem as well. It reminds me of the child who says, "But everyone is doing it" when their parent discovers cigarette smoking. Perhaps the Vatican forgot that the book of Matthew tells us to take the log out of our own eye first.

I understand why each of these survivors would want a million dollars, why it would feel justified. But I can't help but think it means we'll never really know how this abuse of power and patriarchy was allowed to go on for decades...or if it has really ended now.

8 comments:

laura said...

And the RCC institutionally still just doesn't get it... Bishop Mahoney apologized, not to those who were hurt by the abuse, but to those who were offended as though it were a tea-time breach of protocol.

Further - and I am just stunned to hear this (via Jon Stewart of all places) that the settlement is not coming out of the RCC coffers directly, but out of its "sexual abuse insurance" policy. I am just beyond apoplectic - is this for real??

I realize that the RCC's settlement is the largest of its kind because the RCC is the largest of ITS kind... but institutionally, this 2000-year-old body still has some growing up to do before it becomes a responsible adult, IMO.

And I am swiping my comment here to make a full-fledged post because I just realized I have a lot more to say!

ms. kitty said...

Debra, I recently read a disturbing post on another blog (not UU), presumably written by a gay man, who was saying that most of the molestations done by Catholic priests were of teenage boys, not pre-pubescent kids, so consequently the problem was related to gay priests, not pedophile priests. Do you have any clarifying information that would help me respond to this sort of thing when I see it? kitketcham@comcast.net

Robin Edgar said...

:How Much Is Silence Worth?

How much is silence worth to the UUA?

:Well, in the case of the Vatican, apparently 660 million dollars.

How many dollars have the UUA and/or individual U*U congregations paid out to buy the silence of victims of U*U clergy sexual misconduct?

:That's how much it's going to cost the Roman Catholic Church to settle a case brought by 508 people who were sexually abused by priests over the past fifty years.

How many U*Us have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct committed by U*U ministers over the past 46 years? U*U minister Dan Harper says -

"In my Unitarian Universalist tradition, some experts estimate that over fifty per cent of all Unitarian Universalist congregations have experienced an incident of clergy sexual misconduct since the 1960’s. . ."

http://www.danielharper.org/blog/?p=210

Maybe U*Us should think for a moment about how those 500 (or more) people and their wives, husbands, partners, and children have suffered.

Think how much the UUA doesn't want UUA leaders to have to testify in public about why U*U ministers were simply moved to another U*U parish rather than being removed from service completely. . . If you don't believe that the UUA has done this I suggest that you have a chat with uugrrl. It is my understanding that the U*U minister who was found to have committed clergy sexual misconduct against her and several other women in her U*U parish was not defellowshipped by the UUA, and that he is still presiding over a U*U parish somewhere else in the U*U World. I have treason to believe that he is by no means the only U*U minister guilty of clergy misconduct to be shuffled off to another U*U parish either.

:The Vatican said on Monday that they are now committed to ending this problem.

The UUA said in 2000 that they are now committed to ending this problem but there is little evidence that they have done very much to redress past abuses or deal responsibly with current ones. Of course secrecy and lack of transparency in the guise of "confidentiality" makes it difficult to assess just how well or how poorly the UUA is living up to its pledge that its own failures will be remedied and that the UUA will "bend toward justice" in this "untended area".

http://www25.uua.org/cde/csm/apology.html

:They also said in their release that other institutions have this problem as well.

So did the UUA in its apology to U*U victims of clergy sexual misconduct. . . Interestingly enough the UUA admitted that - "Other denominations have done better." I hate to have to say so but, at least when it comes to publicly acknowledging cases of clergy sexual misconduct and providing financial compensation to victims of clergy sexual misconduct the Roman Catholic Church seems to be well ahead of the U*Us. . .

:It reminds me of the child who says, "But everyone is doing it" when their parent discovers cigarette smoking. Perhaps the Vatican forgot that the book of Matthew tells us to take the log out of our own eye first.

Perhaps you and other U*Us forgot that the book of Matthew tells us to take the log out of our own eye first. . .

:I understand why each of these survivors would want a million dollars, why it would feel justified. But I can't help but think it means we'll never really know how this abuse of power and patriarchy was allowed to go on for decades...or if it has really ended now.

I could say the pretty much the same thing about the U*U abuse of power that has gone on for decades and which I have good reason to believe has not really ended now. . . I doubt however that any victims of U*U clergy sexual misconduct have ever received anything approaching a million dollars in compensation for the damage that U*U clergy did to them. Then again. . . Who knows how just much the UUA has paid out to buy the silence of U*U victims of clergy sexual misconduct?

Debra W. Haffner said...

Ms. Kitty, I believe I've seen that data as well...that many of the cases occurred with teenagers so that they are not technically pedophilia. BUT, when an adult has sex of any kind with a minor, it's considered sexual abuse. And some of these priests were having sex with teenage females. The issue is not homosexuality, but rather the abuse of power and authority (and the lack of ability to consent)-- all compounded by the church not taking responsibility.

To Robin Edgar -- I have asked someone at the UUA to respond to your very serious allegations. In my years as a UU minister, working with congregations and clergy, I have not encountered this situation. I have no doubt that there have been women and men hurt by clergy misconduct in my denomination (as in every denomination) but I do know that our ministerial code of ethics is VERY clear about such relationships and that such complaints are taking very seriously at the denomination headquarters. If you would like to talk with me, please contact me directly through the Religious Institute.

Robin Edgar said...

:I have asked someone at the UUA to respond to your very serious allegations.

Which ones? Any actual allegations are based on things that I have been told by U*Us in the know, or are based on seemingly reliable information that is publicly available on the internet.

My question -

"How many dollars have the UUA and/or individual U*U congregations paid out to buy the silence of victims of U*U clergy sexual misconduct?"

Is just that. A question. It is within possibility that the UUA has not actually paid victims of clergy misconduct money to buy their silence. I have been told that the UUA has other means of imposing silence on victims of clergy sexual misconduct committed by U*U ministers.

:In my years as a UU minister, working with congregations and clergy, I have not encountered this situation.

Which situation? I presented a few different situations.

:I have no doubt that there have been women and men hurt by clergy misconduct in my denomination (as in every denomination) but I do know that our ministerial code of ethics is VERY clear about such relationships and that such complaints are taking very seriously at the denomination headquarters.

I agree that the UUMA's code of ethics is indeed VERY clear about the relationships of U*U clergy with their parishioners; however, quite regrettably, it can be and, in my own bitter experience of non-sexual clergy misconduct, has been completely disregarded by UUA administrators. In fact it is my understanding that only fellowshipped U*U ministers can bring a misconduct complaint against another U*U minister on the basis of the UUMA's Code of Ethics aka Code of Professional Practice.

:If you would like to talk with me, please contact me directly through the Religious Institute.

I think I just might do that.

Thank you,

Robin Edgar

Cassandra said...

I believe the correct term for those who prey on post-pubescent teens is "ebophile". I'd be curious to know what percentage of sexual abuse victims are male.

Anonymous said...

Bill O'reilly apperance
Debra, you equated that a child knowing that their body is their's and no one should touch them and a 5 year old being told about inutereo is disingenous at best.
Teachers are ill equipped to handle many jobs let alone sex education.
Sure its true some parents are not doing their job but that doesnt mean its the schools job.

Sex ed for 5 year olds is not age apporpiate in the contex of a "stranger" to teach and thats what a teacher really is.
thank you

Debra W. Haffner said...

I asked Tracey Robinson on the staff of the UUA to respond to Robin Edgar's post.

Here's what she wrote:

The Unitarian Universalist Association is committed to creating and nurturing safe congregations. We take all allegations of ministerial misconduct very seriously, and have processes in place to guide us in our response. It is not appropriate for me to discuss specific complaints. For info rmation on safe congregations, including info rmation about our complaint process, please go to the UUA web site.



Go to http://archive.uua.org/cde/ethics/ for general info rmation and links to a variety of resources for congregational leaders.



Go to http://archive.uua.org/cde/ethics/complaintprocess.html for a brief description of the process we follow in addressing complaints of misconduct against religious professionals.



Go to http://www.uua.org/documents/boardtrustees/congregationswg/070501_safecongs02-07.pdf for a report on safe congregations I prepared in May 2007 for the UUA Board of Trustees.