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May we know the love of the true shepherd...

the guidance,
the leading,
the feeding,
the healing,
the protection,
the restfulness
and the sheer joy of the true shepherd.

And may our faith be strengthened through the times of trial.

In Jesus’ name.

Amen

Anne Stephenson
You may find the following articles of interest:
Educating To End Abuse
Dispelling Myths: Adult Clergy Sexual Abuse
May 2007, Peggy Warren

There are many myths associated with adult clergy sexual abuse. These myths are damaging and inhibit justice for victims within the court systems in the United States. The clergy/parishioner relationship is no different than other professional relationships where there is a fiduciary duty. The "professional", whether it be a teacher, therapist or clergy has a fiduciary duty to whomever they have a professional relationship. A fiduciary duty is a relationship based on trust. The Latin definition for fiduciary is none other than 'faith'. The trust or "faith" in a fiduciary duty relationship is established even before the relationship begins. The trust does not have to be earned. In most cases a person grows up with the belief system that certain professionals can be trusted with no questions asked. Some examples of professional relationships that include fiduciary duty are teacher/student, therapist/patient, and clergy/parishioner. Each of these professionals is held to a higher standard than the "average" professional. Most of these professionals are listed in individual state fiduciary duty laws but in only 17 states is clergy acknowledged as having a fiduciary duty to their parishioners. The titles that go along with these professions tie directly into the power differential, "Professor", "Doctor", and “Father". Catholic laypersons call their priest "Father" for a very specific reason. Cradle Catholics are taught their priest is the closest thing to God our "Father" here on earth. "Father" is the superior, the protector and provider; automatic trust goes hand in hand with those positive characteristics and with the title of "Father".

> read the full article

A Theological Perspective for Clerical Sexual Abuse
May 2015, Anne Stephenson

At the heart of the Good news is that there is a God who cares about us, who protects and leads us. That God is called the Good Shepherd, as Jesus is. It is a relational image where the sheep are known and called by name.

Ordination is seen as a calling. The calling involves building up the body of Christ, to be the Good shepherd. So the person is expected to be relating to the parishioners as a person who has been ordained, to lead them forward for the sake of the sheep, not for the sake of the shepherd.

This relationship is expected to assist people to hear the voice within themselves, where the ‘Kingdom of God’ resides. Obviously the Shepherding minister has heard their own call, so he or she knows how to listen to the voice within; which leads, blesses and guides through, even the shadow of death. So Ordination is a sign that this person can lead in the shepherding wisdom and tradition.

> read the full article

Suggested Robust Procedures for Complaint of Clerical Sexual Misconduct
From within the Methodist Tradition
July 2015, Anne Stephenson

Firstly a complaint is made to an uninvolved parish minister. The fact of the complaint and the alleged clergy person complained about, are then made available to the General Secretary.

The General Secretary will immediately put the clergy person on leave, with pay, whilst there is an enquiry. The clergy person and family would be asked to isolate themselves and not discuss the issue with anyone.

An interim minister would be appointed, with accommodation and salary for an indefinite period.

An Enquirer would be appointed who would then interview the victim and hopefully their family. A victim impact statement would be made and made available to ongoing procedures. Assurances would be given that the complaint was being taken seriously. Pastoral support would be arranged to ensure the feeling of safety and increase well being for the victim.

> read the full article

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