By Danni Moss
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I have heard pious religious leaders accuse victim advocates of using the issue of clergy abuse for personal gain. Frankly, this statement leaves me mystified.
In what way is anyone using the issue as a means of personal gain? The only possible justifications I can see for this statement would be
- attorneys who get paid for services
- victims who may be financially remunerated
- people who are involved in visible organizations to fight clergy abuse, organizations which require financial support to remain active
- people who become involved in victim advocacy or victim counseling, who may be paid for services rendered
Hmmm, as I remember, pastors get paid for the work they do. Does that mean they are taking advantage of the church for personal gain? Of course not! Attorneys who defend abuse victims deserve to get paid – it’s their job and if the church would crack down on clergy abuse from within this cost would be significantly reduced.
Victims deserve every penny they can get and it could never possibly be enough to “pay” for permanent damage done. Again, if the church would self-regulate this cost would be reduced.
Abuse advocacy organizations have become a necessity because the church will continue to cling to it’s inaction until there is an outcry so strong they cannot politically afford to ignore it. These organizations are staffed, either formally or informally, by people who spend hours of their lives working, and the organizations have overhead costs as well. Financial “gain” is required for the work to continue. That’s not greed.
Those who will dedicate their lives to helping victims find healing are also “worthy of their hire.” In this age when the church is abdicating its responsibilities for the healing and well-being of its members others are having to step into the breach. It is an unfortunate fact of our times. These people have families, electric bills and rent/mortgages to pay. Again, this is not an issue of greed.
For the most part, those who are speaking out for victims of clergy abuse are doing it because it needs to be done. They are no more motivated by greed than all the clergy who serve in churches. And don’t get me started on that one either! Clergy are not without blemish on the issue of using the church to satisfy their personal greed! Should we fire all the pastors because some use their position for personal gain in a spirit of greed?
Another way any of these parties might be seen to “gain” from the issue of clergy sex abuse is by gaining personal fame or recognition. Just like the correlary with pastors seeking financial gain through the church, some people may use the issue of clergy abuse to gain personal recognition. And so do many pastors. Unfortunately, power will draw those who crave it, wherever they can find it. This is a definite problem among clergy, probably more so than among victim advocacy groups.