As I write today the news is again dominated by stories of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the first things that I heard this morning was a clip played on the radio where an Irish Monsignor in the Catholic Church was explaining that he was under no obligation to report the sexual abuse of a child to the authorities. The morning ‘Phone-in’ is entitled “Are children safe in the Catholic Church?”
As Evangelical Christians, there is a temptation to think, “What has any of this to do with me?” We pay very little attention to anything that emanates from the Vatican and there are major doctrinal differences to say the least. The problem is that, outside the church, many do not see the divisions between us and then go on to assume that churches are places where child abuse is occurring and then being covered up. We are all being tainted.
Right through the bible we read of the importance that is placed on children. In Matthew’s gospel we read this incident;
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15)
The suffering endured by children that have been abused in this way is unimaginable. Churches should be at the forefront of the fight to protect children and young people and not the ones brushing things under the carpet.
The implications of this are that first the authorities must be informed of abuse. So often in the past abusers are serial abusers spending a lifetime harming children and causing untold misery. Secondly, abusers can never again be placed in a position of trust with children. I believe that no sin is beyond the grace of God; that however does not mean that there is no need for justice here on earth or that the vulnerable do not need our protection.
We have to think practically and clearly so that we are transparent and above reproach. At Eb a lot of work is being done in this area refining and improving our policies. Please pray that the testimony of the church will be maintained and that our church will continue to be a safe place for children and young people.