The Church: Abuser, or Abused.
Seemingly, every day, further evidence emerges of the malfeasance of Australian clergy, particularly in regard to child abuse.
In some cases this abuse, and alleged abuse, was long-term in nature and involved breaching and exploiting the natural trust and innocence of young children.
Many lives have been impacted seriously, often permanently, by this period of abuse.
Consequently, the ‘church’ collectively, whichever faith that may entail, has taken a beating; from the media, ever hungry for more salacious material with which to adorn their front pages; from plaintiff lawyers, always on the scout for a quick return; and from the public, who are getting thoroughly tired with the apparent scope of this sordid behavior.
No-one, no-one, should for a moment extend unbridled leniency to the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. And crimes they are, not mere bad behavior.
Yet ‘the church’ has today wrongly acquired an aura, appearance, a stench even of mal-practice and dishonesty that quite wrongly is being extended and applied right across the realm of inherently good work it does.
For as surely as night follows day, immeasurable good is being delivered daily across the nation by churches of all faiths including, and perhaps particularly, those currently in the cross-hairs.
This good work is clearly being over-looked in the daily media circus, which is negatively swaying public opinion and mood dangerously, and quickly, to paint ‘churches’ as self-serving agencies only operating in their own interests.
Where to now:
Clearly, the miscreants responsible should expect to face the full force of the law; we should never seek to condone, excuse or treat too leniently, convicted perpetrators of these abuse allegations.
The churches and organizations involved must embrace and implement thorough systems to ensure this malpractice never, ever happens again; and this must be of a transparent nature, allowing Government and community in general to rebuild trust and confidence in the integrity of these same bodies.
The victims of this abuse must be extended requisite care and assistance. Not that this will undo what has been done to them, for that is impossible, but that they may begin the long journey of forgiveness and recovery.
And critically, we should ensure that we don’t overlook the enormous benefits that ‘the church’ delivers to our nation, frequently using multiple thousands of volunteers to do work impossible and/or impractical for taxpayer funded agencies to undertake.
Let’s all ensure we retain balance, and not simply run with the hounds, the pack. Herd mentalities are a dangerous thing.
Author Neil Findlay
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