Certified Christian Counselors and Reporting Abuse Within the Church
As cowards hide within the inner sanctuaries of the church to prey upon the innocents, we can see the plans of Satan to destroy the Church. However, the words of Christ echo that the “gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. While these agents of Satan corrupt the hierarchical aspect of the Church, it is the role of the laity to help reform this branch of the Church Militant on Earth. Certified Christian Counselors can play a special role as a mediator between clergy and laity in helping ministers, priests and also victims of sexual abuse.
Many times conflicted emotions can arise over the scandal that has struck the Church. On one hand, many have been taught to trust and love the Church and have seen it as a holy Mother, while on the other hand, one is completely disgusted and distraught how the shepherds fed their little lambs to the wolves. Yet, one should never feel conflict towards an institution when it contradicts the needs of humanity. One should never feel conflict when wolves in sheeps’ clothing need to be removed from the fold. And one should never feel conflict when innocence and trust is grossly destroyed.
Does this mean one should turn on the clergy? Does this mean the holy priesthood and ministries of pastors are to be totally thrown away? Do not think for a moment that as a physical and earthly institution that the church cannot be corrupted. While it is preserved by the Holy Spirit in matters of faith and morals, the weaknesses of the Church are found in its broken members. On earth the Church militant is open to sin. The institution itself, while divinely inspired, nevertheless is made of sinners for the conversion of sinners. Only within the Church Triumphant, or heavenly court, where the Mystical of Body of Christ lives in glory, is it free from corruption or the stain of Satan. With this understood, we cannot dismiss the role of clergy or their important role in the Mystical Body of Christ on Earth. However, we are called to root out the agents of Satan that hide in it.
One must realize that the earthly institution of the Church with its organization is merely a temporary mission in a heathen world. It pales in compassion to the basilicas of heaven. As pilgrims in an unholy land, we must understand that the Church was founded by Christ to baptize and feed our souls. The institution, however, is not the complete church, but one aspect of it. The Church in its entirity, at least on Earth, is comprised of all clergy and laity. In this regard, when one considers loyalty to the Church, do not see the organization, but the Mystical Body of Christ and one’s faith in Christ. One is not to defend the Church, but one is to defend one’s faith. One is not to bend their knee before clergy, but only to Christ. While many of the clergy may have become corrupt, or have hidden perverted monsters within their fold, one cannot become like atheists or haters of the faith but become like Christian soldiers! St. Catherine of Siena understood this. While not priest or bishop, the Holy Spirit guided her to Avignon to admonish the Pope for leaving Rome. And indeed the Pope did return to Rome! One must remember that the laity represents the “church” as much as the clergy. So to understand the church as merely men in funny hats is incomplete. The Church is much more than that and the evil actions of politician priests and perverted men should not be seen as the Church.
Hence as Christians, we should not feel conflicted or betrayed by the true essence of the Church but by the current corrupt regime in the institution. While the double piercing of our hearts bleed from the pain of the children and the disgrace of the priesthood, we must first protect the children. In our protection, we must not seek to destroy the church but reform it. We must realize that the Church is a tool to our salvation, not our salvation. Only Christ is that. Realize that Christ himself denounced the Pharisees of his day and would do no less in his condemnation of the putrid actions performed by his priests and ministers who supposedly represent him in the modern world.
There should be no conflict within a believer between punishing evil men of the Church and one’s obligation to protect children. The Church metaphysically is spotless, but evil men are not. As Christians, we should without limit, pursue and destroy their presence in the Church giving these roaches no place for shelter and exposing them for what they are. For did not Christ say to those that harm his little ones that it would be better that they never been born or have a mill stone tied around their neck and to be cast into the sea? Harsh words from our Lord, but words that show his conviction against the satanic agents that corrupt innocence.
The Christian Counselor and Reporting
With these ideas discussed and a proper understanding of what the Church is and what is not, how does the Christian Counselor emerge as a reporter in these cases. First, the person who relays this information to you will undoubtedly feel conflicted. The priest or minister seems like a beacon of holiness and above reproach. The victim will feel like noone will believe him. It is important to open your arms to them and believe them. If noone believes them they will fall into a deep pit of despair.. It is important to accept their cross and carry it as your own. Second, do not be surprised if men in power use that power for manipulation. For most molesters, it is about power over the victim. A priest or minister can use that power to dehumanize the victim. They can make the victim feel like the molestation was the victim’s fault and that the victim is dirty. Third, they can terrorize the victim with threats. Such threats can include curses, or promises of Hell if they speak about the molestation to anyone else.
Once these things are told, it is the Christian Counselor’s duty to report this to the authorities. Many dioceses or church structures suggest reporting to them. They take the report, assign it to a committee and notify the authorities. They then suspend the priest or minister while the investigation takes place. I suggest notifying the authorities on your own, and then if you feel obliged, to notify the particular church government. If it is small non-denominational community, then one only has the civil authorities to turn to. Due to the Catholic Church’s lack of good faith the past Fifty years or so, despite promises of reform, I would not trust their inner workings and notify the civil authorities first.
This does not mean that certain bishops are not good men who will do what is right and punish these evil men. It does mean though that past administrations may have secrets and corruption that noone wants exposed or seen by civil authorities. These politician bishops will have much to answer to Christ but unfortunately we can no longer trust the institution of the Church and its clergy when it comes to temporal and civil matters.
What Afterwards for the Child?
After reporting, continued counseling will be required for the child, however, in some cases if Traumatic Grief or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome persist then a Christian Counselor should work in union with an LPC. The child will have to become numb to the images that flood his or her head and aided in facing the horror of molestation. Years of therapy are sometimes needed that remove guilt, shame, anxiety and premature sexual awareness.
As a Christian Counselor, with permission from parents, it may be wise to instruct the child about the beauty of sex and how it is God’s gift. One needs to repair the sexual image that was corrupted by the molester and Satan. This perversion of something beautiful could haunt the child his whole life and create pathological issues regarding their future sexual life. Hence there is an extreme importance in teaching the child a Christian understanding of sex and how God intended it to be used as a beautiful gift.
Ultimately, the child should be made to feel guilt free and able to face his or her fears. One needs to take the past and all its pain and incorporate it into a healthy present. We, as counselors, cannot erase what happened, but we can help the victim understand and grow from it. In this way, a healthy adaptation can be produced within the person. The scars will remain, but a healing and new found strength will also manifest.
If I may close an example from nature. I bought a Eastern Red Bud Tree for my front yard. It was a young tree with a thin trunk that was as wide as its only two branches. A strong wind came one day and knocked it down. It could never stand straight again. With no hope in sight, I attempted to prune it down but it accidentally snapped. All that remained was a stick in the ground about six inches high, split down the middle. Before the end of that Summer, the tree started to regrow branches from the barren and thought to be dead trunk. I was amazed and gently tied and fused together the trunk’s split. The next year it grew new branches. Finally after another Summer of growth, it hovered over fifteen feet high. Recently this Spring, it actually bloomed for the first time and in the later months of this Summer has grown over Twenty Feet. Yet the scar at its base is still there as a reminder to me of what happened to it. This extraordinary revival of a tree is but a small ability when compared to the human soul that is infused by grace and cared for by its heavenly Father. Allow yourself as a certified Christian Counselor to become one of the Lord’s tools in regrowing these young souls so that they again bloom a spiritual flower of innocence.
Mark Moran, MA