‘Living on the Edge of a Knife’

Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Bishop Andrew Waldo writes to members of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina:

In our weekend edition of the EDUSC News, we included a report from the Episcopal News Service about Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. The article led off with a summary of a statement by the National Council of Churches, of which The Episcopal Church is a member. We felt the statement was newsworthy regarding the larger Church, meriting its inclusion.

However, the majority of the article focused on various ways that dioceses and parishes across the country have responded to victims of sexual assault. The article highlighted the difficult but necessary work done by those gathered at General Convention this summer, listening to stories of those who have been victimized by others in the Church.

A few took exception to the inclusion of this Episcopal News Service report, to the extent that it is worth addressing with the whole Diocese.

These past few weeks, our national conversation about sexual assault took a new turn, bringing us into further difficult and consequential considerations. Women and men who are victims of sexual violence experience unspeakable trauma with often lifelong consequences. We must pray for all who suffer, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her family. We must also pray for those who are accused, even falsely, for they suffer consequences as well. So, in this moment, we pray also for Justice Kavanaugh and his family.

It is difficult to deny that we as a nation seem to be living on the edge of a knife. Any number of subjects and events create opportunities for us to feel anger and bitterness toward one another and to give up on our relationships with each other within the Body of Christ.

… When it comes to claims of sexual abuse in our institutions, our diocesan policy — and indeed the practice of The Episcopal Church — is to hold everyone affected in prayer. This ENS article failed to do that. We must take accusations seriously, and we must respect the dignity of all people; those who have suffered sexual assault and those who have been accused.

Therefore, when we are on the edge of a knife that seeks to cut us apart from one another, we, as the Church, must find a way back to each other. We must find ways to be open and honest with one another. We must listen before we judge.

I take every accusation of sexual violence seriously. I also seek to respond pastorally to all involved, both the accuser and the accused, and their families. I invite each of you to do the same.


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