Sexual Abuse in the Church
Statement by the Council of Bishops on Sexual Abuse, March 2002
(The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church)
There is little doubt that sexual abuse by clergy or representative lay ministers in the church and society is troubling for our communities and congregations worldwide. Such violations of sacred trust, particularly child or sexual abuse, are devastating to those victimized and all persons affected. Further, these acts damage the integrity of the church’s witness.
As members of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, we affirm our resolve to prevent and eradicate sexual abuse and misconduct in the church. We reaffirm our commitment to compassion, justice and healing for those harmed.
We are committed to addressing sexual misconduct promptly and forthrightly for the healing of all concerned, especially victims and congregations. Clergy and other persons within our communion who abuse children or who are sexual predators will not be knowingly shielded or protected. They shall be held accountable as The Book of Discipline demands and Church order expects. Given these historic affirmations, we joined in the following actions in our semi-annual meeting:
· Prayed for victims, offenders, families and the world church including ourselves.
· Reviewed the church’s response to this issue over the last twenty years
· Re-affirmed our policies and protocol for responding to allegations of misconduct.
· Identified existing resources available for the church.
· Committed ourselves anew to the highest ethical standards of our office and living lives that reflect the gospel.
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
May 3, 2002