Bp. Paul Moore and #MeToo

Mihai Surdu | Unsplash | bit.ly/2L6Sv7c

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Bishop of New York, writes about how the diocese has faced one part of Bishop Paul Moore Jr.’s legacy:

For those of us who were present at General Convention, the careful, well-planned presentation of personal stories, by both women and men, was a powerful learning of both the depth and breadth of the inappropriate exercise of power and the sexualizing of personal, working and pastoral relationships in the church. …

A similar experience took place at the Priests Conference this last spring, when one of the meditations offered by our retreat leader led to a number of our clergy rising to bear witness to the ways in which they have been harmed by the sexual power of others in authority over them. Some described offenses committed against them many years ago, which they have had to carry all these years in a church which had not until now been willing to hear their account. Among those stories came the painful and unvarnished remembrance of the long-time patterns of abuse committed by my predecessor Bishop Paul Moore against priests, seminarians and laypersons in our diocese, not excluding people who were in the room with us at that retreat. It was observed that “there are those too powerful to be held to account,” and we were reminded that all of the sins of the world, and all of the ways in which everything and all people exist in systems marked by power differentials, and all of the ways in which people use other people to satisfy their own desires or ambitions, exist in the church as well.

We were reminded that the very structures and processes and culture by which the church offers healthy, life-giving and life-saving pastoral care and guidance to the people of God also create vulnerabilities which facilitate the predations of sexual abusers. And when the abuse of people comes from their pastors or spiritual leaders it necessarily creates enormous confusions for the abused. This was the experience of many at the Priests Conference, where it was shattering, or difficult to comprehend, that Paul Moore, a figure of extraordinary inspiration for so many of us, also bears the epithet “Serial Predator.” Paul Moore died fifteen years ago, but for those who continue to live with the pain of his long-ago abuse, the invitation is here extended to come forward, anonymously or not, quietly or not, to give your account. You will be helped.

The bishop links to English and Spanish versions of “Broken, Blessed, Beloved — sharing stories of sexual harassment and misconduct for healing and transformation,” a two-page document.


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