What if church leaders, who cover up for sexual abuse, rape and molestation, could be charged and sentenced to prison? Apparently they can.On July 24, 2012, the highest ranking Catholic Church cleric was charged and convicted of child endangerment, for the cover up of child molestation and rape. (Read article here, at www.cnn.com)
Covering a crime is inexcusable. Always. Covering for a crime against a child is beyond inexcusable. And Christians covering up for crimes against innocent children, when Jesus clearly stated what should happen to people who offend little children (Matthew 18:6), is the most despicable of all cover ups.
It has long concerned me that leaders who hide victimization of children in the church, are (seemingly) not held to accountability. At least not in this life.
In recent news, including this case of the church leader, as well as the Sandusky cover up involving Joe Paterno at Penn State–a case that may or may not be accurately represented–it is obvious that leaders turning a blind eye is punishable by law. Granted, there is always the risk that the facts will be wrong, that things will not be as they appear, and innocent people will get caught, accused, and sentenced. That reality is unfortunate. But not as unfortunate as little children being raped and abused while adults look the other way.
This kind of situation can be argued both ways. People sympathize with the leaders who felt trapped and didn’t know what to do, maybe not certain if the facts were accurate. At the same time there’s the horrific crime against the innocent that leaves everyone feeling sorry for the victims, wondering if more could not have been done with what was known.
I get that there’s two sides. But standing idly by is inexcusable and allows criminal activity. If men and women are called to leadership, then this is a test of that leadership, and they need to rise up and face their fears, risking whatever it takes to do what is right. That’s what leaders do. And if they don’t, they’re not leaders.
I’m going to take it one step further. Whether we are leaders with a title or not, we have a duty to protect children and do what is right. If we are Christians, we are leaders, by virtue of doing the right thing, whether it’s popular or not. If we know that crimes are being committed, particularly against the innocent and helpless, we have a moral obligation to report that criminal activity. It’s not popular. I’ve done it. But it’s still the right thing to do.
New King James Version (NKJV)
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Who knows… If leaders are asked to take ownership, if they are at risk of ‘taking the fall’ when they knowingly neglect to protect the innocent, maybe it will help break the silence in abuse cases…
© Trudy Metzger
Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series