Secrecy and Sexual Abuse: Is the Confessional failing the Church and its Members?

Foreword: Sexual Abuse in the Church and by Christian ‘sects’ such as Christian Assemblies International (CAI) points to a highly disturbing and continuing trend for sexual abuse to be swept under the carpet and go unreported to police. In this second in a series of writings, former Uniting Church Minister Graeme Ness, reflects on the role of the Church and the Confessional in an age when denial and deceit continues to be the characteristic response of Church and Spiritual leaders to this most pressing issue.

When the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) released a paper addressing issues of sexuality for discussion across the UCA in the mid 1990’s, one of the older ladies in one congregation said “I don’t know why we have this paper. We have never talked about these things, and I don’t want to talk about them now.”

A few years later I spent two hours with a lady in her 70’s – she was in hospital and was dying. The lady was very agitated and moving restlessly; the family couldn’t understand what she was worried about. After some time she told me she had been sexually abused by her stepfather when she was 11 and I was the first one she had told about it: that experience of sexual abuse had scarred her life impacting on all her relationships. The sad thing was that it was only as death came near that she talked, accepted that the sexual abuse was not her fault, and finally released the hurt and the tension in her body. Continue reading “Secrecy and Sexual Abuse: Is the Confessional failing the Church and its Members?”

Knowing I am a Son of God: Inspired by the Full Moon

Recently I have been feeling how I don’t often see myself as a Son of God or feel that I have a strong connection to God or to Religion in the true sense of the word.

During the recent August full moon and I decided to take a walk. At the start of my walk my mind was full of doubts – is it the full moon tonight or have I got it wrong? But after a while I decided that the number of times I consciously take time out of my day to do something to connect to myself are very few, and even fewer are the times when I connect to the fact I am a son of God, so I wasn’t going to spoil it by spending the whole walk worrying. Continue reading “Knowing I am a Son of God: Inspired by the Full Moon”

Learning to Feel my Feelings: Human Beings, not Human Doings

For as long as I can recall I’ve kept myself busy. I’ve pottered and found tasks to complete, anything to distract and stimulate me rather than stop to feel and deal with what was really going on.

Even when matters blew up in my face and I had to face my feelings and emotions head on, I would cry and bemoan my fate to anyone who would listen, feeling sorry for myself and becoming a victim, and I would use this as a distraction rather than deal with the real issue. I felt life was unfair and blamed others around me for my fate. By not dealing with the issue, it would seem, ‘it’ got buried in my body.

As an example, my back gave way one day in boarding school when I was 10 years old and I was prescribed ‘bed rest’ for a few weeks. (My ‘backbone’ no longer supported me.) This weak back continued for many years after. Continue reading “Learning to Feel my Feelings: Human Beings, not Human Doings”

Who or What is God?

As a small child I was brought up by a Catholic mum and a Church of England dad; I was sent to Catholic boarding school when I was seven where there was a beautiful chapel with candles and incense and I would spend many hours in there singing in the choir, attending services, praying or simply enjoying the sensory experience.

I grew up believing that God was separate from us. We were taught that he was a giant being who created us, who sat on a big throne in Heaven and judged and punished us. I grew up with ideals and beliefs that said that I must be ‘good’, otherwise I would go straight to Hell when I died… or if I wasn’t completely bad a not-quite-so-hellish place called Purgatory. So I tried to be good and when I failed I’d go to confession and say the Hail Marys that would absolve me from my sins and let me start again.

Continue reading “Who or What is God?”