Reports of sexual abuse are everywhere. If you haven’t seen it on the news, researched it on your own, then I suggest that you read the article in Wed. Aug. 15th Arkansas’s Democrat-gazette. The article is entitled, “300 plus clergy listed in sex-abuse report,” and it details the grand jury report given to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The report relates and details the
“systematic cover-up effort by church leaders over 70 years.”
I want to applaud the AG Josh Shapiro and those in his office for such a determined investigation, and I pray that it is the example followed by each and every state in our United States of America.
Not only will you read things that will disturb you, but you will find common elements linking what I endured as a child at the hands of Charles “Jack” Walls III. All the strategies that are detailed in the report can be seen in what happened to those of us that were abused during the 40 years of terror Jack caused the boys of Arkansas that he victimized in the Boy Scouts.
As you look at how the abuse was covered up by the church leaders, you can look through our many documents to see the church officials, public officials, law enforcement, and others that did all in their power to suppress the truth. As the article points out in the words of Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccount-ability.org,
“Accountability from inside the church is not happening.”
Nor did accountability truly take place for the local churches in Lonoke that chartered the local Boy Scout troops, allowed Jack and family members to hold positions, and the Walls family to use the church as a grooming structure.
There is no doubt what-so-ever that many in positions of power derailed the attempts of victims and their families from ending what was happening to them. The grand jury report also pointed out that there were
“cases it found in which police or prosecutors learned of clergy sex-abuse allegations, but did not investigate out of deference to church officials.”
For those that have read through the many documents within our own investigation and current appeal, it is clear that there was no accountability for the local prosecutor and law enforcement that failed to prosecute Charles “Jack” Walls III. Many are still in public office, some even advancing in their careers, but only because the public has failed to see their part in the molestations of their children.
As the sheltering priests have now risen to the highest ranks of the Catholic church, we see the law enforcement and prosecutors have gone on to become judges. If they failed to investigate as prosecutors and officers out of deference to those they worked with, then do you think they will do anything when those secrets pose such a threat? My point here is that church politics have allowed secrets to pave the way for predators that have been shielded, and those that shield them must in turn keep their secrets and be pulled up with them.
If the church leaders have used influence and secrets to protect themselves over the years, we must ask ourselves what they do with the secrets revealed in confessions. If a priest will hide accusations of abuse of brother priests, then what would he do with the secrets of the powerful and wealthy? What hope do we, as survivors of sexual abuse from powerful church sponsored predators, have when those that must investigate them are firmly in their pockets?
As Jason Berry, reporter and author, pointed out,
“We’re dealing with a long-term struggle not only about the meaning of justice, but about the meaning of memory and how honest the church has been about this crisis.”
If our justice system relies on facts and truth to determine cases, is there any question that prosecutors that suppress abuse and its impact undermine the constitutional structure of our whole process?
I ask you to consider the power of our religious leaders, how their messages push and pull at our values and ideals, and what might be the power of such when the message has an agenda?
How often do we see criminal cases tried in the media, law enforcement and prosecutors leaking certain documents to influence the opinions of those who vote for them and one’s guilt? It is the reason that prosecutor misconduct is on equal terms to a priest violating his flock, because when he chooses to withhold the truth to embellish the lie, justice itself is violated. Is that the true reason Lady justice wears the blindfold, so that she can’t see what is being done to the children at her feet?
I pray that in due time the criminal justice system will begin to see the condemned victims filling our prison systems, and now accept their part in denying the acts that shaped such poor decisions. How many of those children, molested and raped in the church or by those associated with it, went on to become addicts or break laws that morals are supposed to help shape? Are not their actions the cries of an adult that was once a child abused? Do not we all seek the church for support in our most pain-filled moments, yearning for the healing and renewal that is promised in Christ? Do we not vote for those that proclaim the ideas and values that we hold dear, and expect them to uphold a level of morality that reflects such?
You see, the predators know the game that we are all playing catch up to learn, and the many that have enabled and empowered them do not want that to happen. Please be careful who you allow to influence you and what you think and be mindful of all those that promise to offer what you can’t to those you love. It is hard to know who to trust in a world lost in denial over what has gone on for so long. This is the time for questions and answers, solutions to the problems, and for our civil and religious leaders to say enough. We want those that lead us to reflect not reject our values and morals, and then expose the dangers to us all instead of benefiting from hiding what they do to us.
When in doubt we must cling to the Word of God, and what He says about those that claim to know Him. A man or woman’s actions are the fruit of their spirit, and we are called to see the evidence in our actions not the subjective and verbal slight of tongue deceivers use. Our churches need our prayers, the cleansing that Jesus once did to reclaim His father’s house is underway, and we as the body of our Savior must be part of the housekeeping.
Now that we hold the Word within us, knowing Him and His love, we are called to be aware and mindful of what goes on so that it isn’t stolen from us. How is the Word stolen, you ask, when we take into our hearts a lie that another shares as the truth. When we are manipulated and coerced into following another path, and then we find along the way our whole purpose supplanted by the will of another. We must pray and love one another, seek the will of God, and remind one another of the LOVE of GOD so that we know what love is.
I know how important the Body of Christ is to our faith, what we have at stake in this war for the truth, and I beg of you to search your heart and drink in the Word. I encourage those that don’t know Christ or God to not allow what those that claim to serve the faith to deny you what your soul craves.
If you will read my story and know what abuse did in my life, then also see the power of God and renewal in Jesus that allowed me to heal and find the courage to speak out. Together we can reclaim the houses of God, because we who believe are that church of faith. Beware what comes inside.
God bless you,