The following was written by the Rev. Susan Faye Wonderland, the transitional executive of the Synod of the Trinity.
The stunning number of victims.
The stunning number of perpetrators.
The years of cover up.
The pain and broken faith implicit in these allegations certainly impacts our RC brothers and sisters across the region, but it impacts us as well. I – we – are broken, angry and horrified by the years of predatory behavior being recounted, and by the numbers of lives hurt by those who are suppose to be protecting and caring for our children, hurt by individuals as well as by the systems that did not respond well to the hurting.
To be really fair, no one group is immune from the heinous behavior that is abuse in faith communities of all types. Our call is not to be smug, thinking predatory behavior is never a part of the PCUSA. It has been and will be. Part of our call is to keep listening to victims and figuring this out. Part of our call is to follow best practices for safety and reporting, including that which is asked of us by the church, by the state and by new learnings.
Yet there is more.
How can we let our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church know that we are grieving with them and standing with them? Certainly we can and should pray with them as we pray for all who face this kind of brokenness. We can listen to their pain, frustration and whatever else they express as a part of processing the depth of last week’s “news.”
Many who are hurting are our friends and brothers and sisters! We can admit our own culpability and need to be and do more in Christ around abuse. We can seek avenues to make concerns around abuse be “our” concerns and our communities’ concern, not just “theirs.” We can be intentional about educating ourselves to educate others regarding the resources in our church and community for those who are victims of abuse.
Perhaps most importantly, we can encourage our Roman Catholic friends and colleagues to speak up and act in their own system for change, immediately, as they seek to heal and move forward toward a greater wholeness. This healing will not happen quickly; there are still many secrets and many unspoken names. But the Spirit is strong.