Today we speak of transparency, human rights, customer rights etc. We have slowly built a way in our civilisation in order to avoid mistakes, especially some particular mistakes. We have several examples of in-house or outside the house checking of standards. We have several steps, for litigation to take place correctly, in case the customer is not satisfied 100%. This is all done in order to ensure the best satisfaction between sellers and buyers.

Now in the church, we have a rather large area which is commonly called the grey area. There are several instances where the parishioners ask for a personal appointment with the pastor (or parish priest). This is all cloaked in secrecy. How can one be transparent when all is done in great secrecy? It’s like a secret agent accusing his employer of something. It is common understanding that what passes on between the priest and the parishioner remains so forever. How can one accuse the priest of something?

That’s why the silence which is commonly understood between the priest and the parishioner, could be used in the wrong way by the priest or the hierarchy (top people) of the church.

Most of the time, the people who have suffered an emotional abuse, feel themselves still bound by the secrecy act. In our experience, it has been very hard to instil confidence in people who have been abused in order to come forward. Secrecy seems to be a word which is written in the heart of Christians.

Some are still of the opinion that they might damage the church so it’s better to remain silent. Now, if one looks at the big picture, the day after might become more damaging to the church. If some insist on washing dirty linen inside, what is the way forward if everything is in great secrecy and no visible change is noticed? If no action is taken, then there would be no other alternative but to speak to ‘outsiders’ in order to do justice in the church.

Others are afraid of coming forward because that they are partly to blame for the budding love story between themselves and the priest. Speaking about relationships it is rather sticky as it involves lots of emotions, physical characteristics, thinking, growth, empathy etc.…It’s not so easy to pardon oneself and move forward elsewhere. On the other hand, people tend to get stuck with an abusive relationship, rather than having no relationship at all!

Most probably the guilt feeling would add more misery to the person involved as it keeps the person from speaking out. I feel guilty too so I have no right to speak of…..Well the time will come when they will realise that most probably the priest has abused his place and role and used the person for his own egoistic needs. The priest is the one who holds authority and law in his work. He is the one who should know all the boundaries. He is a role figure to many Christians. People would obey him owing to the fact that he is the priest or God (in their minds). This notwithstanding the fact, that falling in love with the priest creates a spiritual nightmare. Yet obedience blinds the person to any other practical consequences. In some cases, the woman, due to the obedience factor, took off her clothes.

The technological part has been abused too. Today it’s so easy to get to know people just by sending an sms, email etc. Again, it’s all done in the name of secrecy. In some cases, the woman was in bed with her husband (albeit sleeping!), whilst texting sexual messages to her priest. It seems to be not real for the common reader or totally foolish or disgusting. For those who have fallen in love, see things differently. They are being pushed around by their priest and it is all being done in great secrecy!

One final surprising reason is that the woman involved most probably truly loved her priest. In no way she is going to jeopardise the priest’s role in society! Love drives people to do the most incredible actions! This is one of them. “I know the priest abused me emotionally….but I still love him!” “Don’t ask me to start criminal proceedings against him. I won’t accuse him of anything!”

Lastly but surely not the least reason, there is still a great area which is not being given its due importance. How can we regulate the priest-parishioner in order to avoid silly mistakes especially when secrecy is so deeply embedded? This is not just the creation of courts, lawyers etc.… but rather a holistic education to all. The more we speak about it, the more we should learn from such experience. Our aim in this blog is to talk about what goes on between the parishioner and the priest in order to clarify many situations and avoid a lot of hurt, especially an emotional one.

We are happy that our blog has been in the forefront in order to help people speak about this kind of secrecy where most people suffer in silence. We thank all those who have published their story because in doing so, they have helped so many others. Some people could not give a name to their ‘silent story’. Now thanks to some stories they have become more aware of so many aspects of their past relationship with a priest. Hopefully they move forward in a healthy way. So let’s uncover all the secrets whispered in an inappropriate way!

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