A year later: An Evangelical commentary on the abuse summit in the Vatican

Thomas Schirrmacher Abuse Summit

Title: A year later: An Evangelical commentary on the abuse summit in the Vatican

Author: Thomas Schirrmacher

Publisher: Thomas Schirrmacher website

Date: 26MAY2020

I had not been a pastor for a year when the children of someone in charge of our denomination told me they were regularly abused. Inexperienced as I was, I tried to do it inside the church, without the police. In the end, I was  transferred, and later there was a police investigation and the truth came out. The children, however, are still grateful to me that I intervened to end the abuse. Today I urge that churches have strict guidelines on violence and sexual abuse in general and with regard to minors in particular, immediately involve  the relevant state law enforcement agencies and, for example, immediately bring the victims, if reasonable, to the authorities responsible for taking evidence.

The case of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek in the evangelical environment, which was not about minors, shows all the patterns of the usual process with which the Catholic Church is currently dealing thousands of times. The perpetrator denies that despite very flimsy explanations of compromising situations, he is believed. Other responsible persons stand in front of him, even when victims separated from one another in terms of time and space, which at least makes a coordinated dirt campaign or an act of revenge very unlikely. Then the perpetrator resigns, claiming innocence, then media releases with ever new victims. When the successor finally speaks to these victims, he resigns and shortly thereafter the entire circle of elders. Unfortunately, everything is time-barred.

The abuse by clergymen can be imagined even less than by other people, especially if they are friendly and popular. Abuse is the art of pretending! Pope Francis experienced this bitterly when he stood in front of his friend Bishop Juan Barros Madrid from Chile in 2015. 2,300 pages of investigation files by the Pope-appointed investigator, Archbishop Maltese Charles Scicluna, informed him otherwise, he apologized to the world, all Chilean bishops offered to resign. Here the Pope experienced that the covering of the perpetrators by influential friends often does not come from ethical laxity or corruption, but from naivety, unbelievability or even friendship.

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