Church Must Look at Abuse of Power
Colleen Constable, Pretoria – Thanks for an excellent editorial on the #metoo campaign (October 25). Your closing comment “In a patriarchal country like South Africa, with its high levels of sexual violence and complex sexual relations, it is especially important to take into the public forum the question of how power is institutionalised in our patriarchal society” inspired me to reflect about what this could mean for the Church.
If applied to analyse power in the Church, the following comes to mind:
- That the Church has to reflect on how power is institutionalised, it is abused by some of its clergy.
In short this could mean: What is being done to eradicate racism within the Church (which is a violation of human rights) and what is being done to transform alleged “racist priests’” discriminatory mindsets? What is being done at the local level to uphold good governance practices?
- What is being done to eradicate violence against women in the Church? What is being done to ensure that women in the Church are treated with dignity and respect?
What is the Procedure in Dealing with Abusive Priests?
In short, What is being done to deal with “sex-pest priests”?
I recently heard from a woman whom a priest has harassed three times for sex, each time arriving at her doorstep with a condom. He had great difficulty accepting her rejection. Whispers go that this same priest was transferred from one diocese to another when it was discovered he had had an affair.
To address the above concerns, I suggest (in addition to measures already in place) that the bishops’ Justice & Peace Commission or other relevant Church body consider establishing a toll-free line.
On this, parishioners could freely and anonymously report information that relates to allegations of corruption, racism and sex-pest priests.