|A Catholic Writes
|Note the following letter written to a local congregation of JWs
|Even though I am a Catholic, I have accepted much of your literature over the years. I have read much about the wrongs of my faith in your magazines and books. For example, the problems with pedophile priest. (See references below) While I in no way condone such conduct, I find it incredibly hypocritical that you consistently point fingers at others when you have the same problem. (See enclosed news article.) A fact that which I've never seen mentioned in your literature.
At least our Catholic leadership has admitted to this problem. Every Jehovah Witness I talked to knew nothing about these multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements. Most denied that such things happened in "their organization".
Well, I called your headquarters in Brooklyn to confirm its accuracy. At the end of my call, I was informed that I could write the local kingdom hall in my area if I wished for Jehovah's Witnesses to no longer visit my home. Accept this letter as such a wish. I have no desire to listen to a hypocritical pot calling the kettle black.
Jehovah's Witnesses urged to change policy on sex abuse cases
The Associated Press Published: May 10, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tennessee: A victims' rights group released documents Thursday that showed the Jehovah's Witnesses recently settled civil suits with 16 people who claimed they were sexually abused by church elders or that church officials failed to act on abuse allegations.
The group, called silentlambs, held a news conference in Nashville to demand that the denomination change its policy for responding to sex abuse reports.
Settlements were reached in late February and early March, according to court records obtained by silentlambs and posted to the group's Web site. Fourteen of the cases were filed in California; the other two were in Oregon and Texas.
Details about the settlement terms could not be disclosed under confidentiality agreements negotiated between the parties, said Stephen Owens, a plaintiffs' attorney involved in the California cases. Other cases are still pending, according to silentlambs, which couldn't say how many.
The Jehovah's Witnesses, whose headquarters are in Brooklyn, New York, said Thursday that they were pleased to see the lawsuits resolved, declining further comment.
"Our loving heavenly Father makes it clear in his Word, the Bible, that he abhors child abuse," a statement from the denomination said.
"As an organization, we will continually strive to educate families and congregations with sound Scriptural teachings that they can use to protect their children from child molesters. And we will continue to do our utmost to protect children from this horrible crime and sin."
There are about 1 million Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States, and followers are known for distributing Awake! and Watchtower magazines door-to-door.
William Bowen, silentlambs' founder, was a Jehovah's Witnesses elder from Kentucky who quit the denomination after he said it took no action against a molester. Bowen said the settlements were bittersweet.
"On one hand, we're glad a few victims are finally getting some financial help," he said. "On the other hand, we're sad and worried because they've essentially been forced to give up their right to protect others by speaking out about their abuse to the public."
Bowen's group has criticized the Jehovah's Witnesses' policy that if an accused abuser denies the charge, two credible witnesses are required to establish guilt due to literal application of such Bible verses as Deuteronomy 19:15 ("only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained").
If two witnesses are lacking, the accused is deemed innocent, charges remain confidential and silentlambs says parents who warn others are subject to disfellowshipping for slander.
Disfellowshipping is an extreme penalty that means a total cutoff of relationships by family members, friends and business associates who are Witnesses.
Bowen also said Jehovah's Witnesses have a long-standing policy of not reporting molesters to police. He claims that the denomination has a secret database of accused abusers that they have not shared with law enforcement officials.
"They keep putting innocent kids and unsuspecting families at risk of horrible crimes because they value their secrecy and reputations more than they value children's safety," Bowen said.
Since establishing silentlambs in 2001, Bowen says about 7,000 people who claim they were abused have contacted his group.
Angelique Taylor, 42, a silentlambs member from St. Louis, said she was molested by a Jehovah's Witnesses elder when she was about 12. Taylor said she told her father, who was also an elder, and he said she was making a big deal out of nothing.
"I want every elder, every Jehovah's Witness, whenever they suspect any abuse, they go to the police and tell them about the problems," Taylor said. "The devastation of sex abuse is unbelievable."
Associated Press reporter Allison Hoffman in San Diego contributed to this report.
All of the following finger pointing references apply equally to your church.
Several prelates have followed the popes example. In December 1994 the Italian newspaper IlGiornale reported: "Many American bishops appeared on television and publicly asked forgiveness." For what? For underestimating the problem of pedophile priests, to the detriment of many young victims.
In the August 16, 1993, issue of Newsweek, an article entitled "Priests and Abuse" reported on "the worst clerical scandal in the modern history of the U.S. Catholic Church." It stated: "While allegations have been lodged against an estimated 400 priests since 1982, some churchmen extrapolate that as many as 2,500 priests have molested children or teenagers. . . . More than money, the scandal has cost the church severe embarrassmentand some of its moral authority." Other religions throughout the world are in the same situation.
Victims of Pedophile Priests SpeakOut
"DURING the past decade, some 400 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to church or civil authorities for sexual abuse of children," according to U.S.News&WorldReport. Recently, a national gathering of survivors of such abuse was held near Chicago, Illinois. Many spoke openly of how they had been victimized by pedophile priests.
But NCR (NationalCatholicReporter) notes that speakers sounded another theme repeatedly throughout the conference: "The first abuse is sexual; the second and more painful, is psychological." This second abuse occurs when the church refuses to listen to victims of abuse, fails to take their accusations seriously, and moves only to protect the offending priests. "Fairly or unfairly," NCR reports, "they portrayed Catholic clergy as belonging to an unhealthy and misguided group more bent on preserving privilege and power than in serving lay needs."
"A flurry of child sex-abuse scandals has drawn the Roman Catholic Church into a far-ranging investigation of pedophile priestsa phenomenon critics say the church hierarchy has long kept muffled," reports The Herald-News of Joliet, Illinois, U.S.A. "In the past nine months, seven priests in the Chicago area have been removed from parishes and one has been indicted because of sexual mistreatment complaints involving children." A three-member commission has been appointed by cardinal Joseph Bernardin to decide how to deal with the problem that, according to a church spokesman, "is a lot deeper than anybody thought" and that is estimated to involve hundreds of priests nationwide. Efforts are now being made to root out the errant priests, who were formerly reassigned to different parishes. Some people, though, still have misgivings. "They dont understand the psychological depth of the injury when people are injured by someone who represents the church, which we believe has formulated our values, morals and principles," said the mother of one abused child.
Shielding Pedophile Priests?
"Some dioceses still shield priests accused of pedophilia," ran a recent headline in the U.S. newspaper National Catholic Reporter. The newspaper interviewed Jeffrey Anderson, a lawyer who specializes in cases of sexual abuse. He estimates that since 1985, when priestly pedophilia came under increased public scrutiny, there have been over a thousand cases in which priests molested children. Anderson had some harsh words for the churchs response to the ongoing crisis: "It is a continuing saga of avoiding responsibility," he charges, decrying the churchs focus on protecting the accused clerics. "As a general rule, the institutional response of the church has been willfully inadequate both in tending to victims and dealing with risks."
***g9012/8p.31"A Sexual Crisis "Among the Clergy***
A conference of U.S. Catholic bishops received a report on the "catastrophe" of priest pedophile litigation. The 100-page report, states the Journal, "detailed a strategy for limiting the Churchs liability from civil lawsuits to $1 billion [$1,000 million] based on the 30 suits then pending." The lawsuits are being brought by the Catholic parents of the children involved. And psychiatrists who treat the young victims of these crimes report long-term, often permanent, damage.
Gods Word speaks of such "disgraceful sexual appetites" by which males are "inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene," and adds that the "righteous decree of God" is that "those practicing such things are deserving of death."Romans 1:26, 27, 32; see also 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
***w9412/1p.6The 20th-Century Denial of God***
The clergy have also denied God by turning their backs on his moral standardsas evidenced, for example, by a steady stream of lawsuits against pedophile priests. The situation of Christendom resembles that of ancient Israel and Judah. "The land is filled with bloodshed and the city is full of crookedness," the prophet Ezekiel was told, "for they have said, Jehovah has left the land, and Jehovah is not seeing." (Ezekiel 9:9; compare Isaiah 29:15.) Little wonder that many have abandoned Christendoms churches altogether! But must they abandon belief in God?
Our Shame Is Clear to the Whole World
THE New York Times of July 20, 1990, carried a headline: "Canadian Prelate Quits in Clerics Sex Scandal." What was the story? Yet another case of clergymen being accused of sexual abuse of boys. On this occasion the scandal was in the province of Newfoundland, Canada, and the clergy were Catholic. What made it different?
The Times reported: "The Archbishop of Newfoundland has resigned after charges that the Roman Catholic Churchs hierarchy ignored or failed to deal effectively with three years of scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against altar boys, orphaned youths and others by Roman Catholic priests and church laymen." First accused of gross indecency in 1979, one priest was recently sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to 36 charges!
Usually these cases are hushed up, and no significant disciplinary action is taken. Perhaps a priest is transferred to another parish or duty, where the depravity might start again. On this occasion the archbishop was moved to resign after stating: "We are a sinful church. We are naked. Our anger, our pain, our anguish, our shame are clear to the whole world."Compare Revelation 17:15-18.
Dark Side of United Church
"Most of us come from a rather naive assumption that such things as sex abuse would not occur in the church and would never be committed by clergy," said United Church minister Sylvia Hamilton. However, Hamilton suggests that "it is a major problem." According to Canadas TorontoStar, sexual abuse "ranging from jokes to forced sexual activitiesis as prevalent, if not more prevalent, in the church as in society as a whole." Peter Lougheed, a United Church task-group member, confessed that "the church is a less safe place for the parishioner and for women than the secular workplace." The Star report adds: "After years of denial and cover-up, the problem is only now percolating to the surface like bubbles in a swamp."
Trouble in the Churches
"The problem of sexual abuse in the church is not going to go away," reports TheTorontoStar. Sexual scandals among church leaders are widespread. They are not limited to television evangelists and the Catholic Church. Abuse also "happens in the Salvation Army, in the United Church, in the Presbyterian Church," noted a Salvation Army officer. Anglican Primate Archbishop Michael Peers said that such abuse is a "deep-rooted and dark" problem in the church. According to the Star, Archbishop Peers admitted that in the past this churchs response to charges of sexual abuse "has been denial and control." Timothy Bently from the Toronto Centre for the Family reportedly stated that if "the churches do not face up to what is essentially a spiritual crisis openly and honestly their authority to preach on sexual ethics will crumble."
Australian National Television recently broadcast a documentary entitled "The Ultimate Betrayal." The program claimed that 15 percent of clergymen in Australia had committed sexual offenses, ranging from the molestation of children to the rape of women parishioners. Within hours of the television program, various centers set up to handle complaints of sexual assault were inundated with telephone calls from alleged victims. Many callers said they had kept their experience secret for many years. One woman said that she was speaking about her ordeal as a child for the first time in 40 years! Another said that after her clergyman had sexually abused her as a child, he threatened her with hellfire punishment if she dared to tell anyone. Spokesmen for various church groups disagreed with the 15-percent figure but did admit that the sexual misconduct of clergymen was a serious problem.
"The Australian Catholic Church has taken out a multimillion dollar insurance policy to protect itself against claims of sexual abuse by priests," reports TheSundayTelegraph of Sydney, New South Wales. "We admit it goes on," said a Catholic bishop in Melbourne, Australia. He asserts that such extensive insurance coverage is normal "for that kind of offense." According to a support group for the victims, sexual abuse by the clergy is more widespread than the church admits. A spokesman for the group said he believes the churchs focus is more on protecting the clergy than helping the victims. He added that the message "at the very core of the churchs documents is, dont tell the truth."