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Posts Tagged ‘denial’

I saw parts of a documentary, “2012,” about Nostradamus’ predictions and scientific insights into the alignment of sun and Milky Way and the earth on December 21, 2012.  The Mayan calendar ends on that same day.  Will the earth freeze?  Will it explode, like the recent Hollywood action trauma? Oh, no! What will we do? Doesn’t all that hype and fear generated by this doomsday thinking keep us all very anxious and distracted from what we can do today about what is in our control?

There are plenty of real traumas that could use our attention.

I saw parts of the documentary because I was so bored by the ongoing fear and hype associated with it, I fell asleep.  I find even an explanation of problems without any sense of solutions pointless, and destruction without redemption worthless.

Mayans and others believe that we’re entering a new age, but one driven by survival of the wisest, not survival of the fittest. Not pointless destruction. If we created an economic disaster by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like, then this new age might be more economically driven by wellbeing and sustainable, meaningful uses of time, talents and resources.

But what if we really take this end time warning seriously?  What if it’s true that we have less than three years on this planet as we know it? Wouldn’t it make sense to live this new age now and to help others live full and free lives now? I don’t remember the theologian who said that true atheists and true believers should both work to improve life for all now. Believers would be motivated by realizing the kingdom of heaven and atheists by the thought that there is no afterlife and this life must be as good and meaningful as we can make it.  Maybe I imagined I heard that during my seminary studies.

In any case, I don’t think that most people, particularly church leaders, believe that we’re facing the end times. If so, why do church leaders continue to protect the ‘interests of the church’, spending money that they claim to not have on public relations firms and attorneys or to stay out of courts that they supposedly don’t need to avoid, to respond to people they don’t like?  Why not begin to promote well being, healing and use the time, resources and talents they have to help survivors of religious authority sexual abuse be free?

What do we believe about religious authority sexual abuse? What if it’s true that most sexual abuse happens in family settings? Still, it’s very true that clergy abuse against children and vulnerable adults continues to happen. Numbers are hard to use that are context specific because there are so many variable in any one context.  That’s why the 39,000,000 number of people in the U.S. who have been sexually abused is such a conservative number.  Within the church context, a recent study by Dr. Diana Garland that included 17 Christian and Jewish affiliations concludes that “More than 3% of women who had attended a congregation in the past month reported that they had been the object of CSM at some time in their adult lives.”

So that means that in a congregation of 400 people, 60% of whom are women, that 7 women will have been sexually abused, as adults by a minister.  So what if it’s true?

And what if it’s true that Cardinal Mahony covered up sexual abuse by priests?  What if it’s true that rabbis and imams and monks and nuns and religious leaders everywhere have perpetuated, sometimes conspired with, child sexual abuse or abuse of vulnerable adults?  Is it the end of the church world?

Will the next vile revelation of abuse make a difference? Will it make a difference if a cardinal or bishop or rabbi or monk serves time in jail for his part in concealing pedophiles?

Will it make enough of a difference to change the practice of protecting church assets into doing justice for victims of religious authority sexual abuse?  Will it make enough of a difference to end the practical ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture about sexual abuse in churches, mosques, temples and other religious settings? Will it make a difference to those that act like the person on Oprah years ago who said about clergy abuse, ‘Even if it’s true, I won’t believe it!’

Maybe the end of the world isn’t about a physical calamity.  I believe it’s primarily about a shift in consciousness that will lead to changes by taking care of people and using things, and not the reverse.  About 10 years ago, Petco responded to the discovery of harmful pet food by recalling massive amounts of pet food and then reaching out to anyone impacted by the product.  Today, Toyota has already recalled 8 million cars and is making great efforts to protect people.  These corporations have acted as if they saw the end of their world and wanted to prevent it.  And they deal with pets and things, not children and vulnerable adults.

I welcome an end of the world of religious authority sexual abuse and welcome a world of believing what we see and not seeing what we believe.  I welcome an end of the world of clerics hiding behind religion and others’ unwavering, blind faith in their innocence to avoid accountability for their criminal behaviors.

Would it be the end of the world if a religious leader went to jail for his part in the rape of children and vulnerable adults?  I don’t think so. But it might cause a breakthrough in the denial in enough people’s consciences to recall unreliable and harmful people and fix the systems that allowed for the destruction of lives through religious authority sexual abuse.  That could bring meaning and redemption to a doomsday story.

Dr. Romo is an educator, consultant, and author of “Healing the Sexually Abused Heart:  A Workbook for Survivors, Thrivers, and Supporters.”

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