Pastoral Abuse

Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems:
Scapegoating, Family Secrets, and the Abuse of Power

by Candace Reed Benyei

This book has many strengths, the greatest of which is its application of family systems theory to religious congregations. Benyei, a psychotherapist who specializes in congregational dispute resolution, explains systems theory in down-to-earth terms and makes its relevance clear at every turn. Her discussions of the role of transference (clergy as representative of God and parents) and the human needs of clergy are insightful. The case history she presents of a (real but disguised) troubled church is especially interesting, and the practical recommendations and glossary at the end make this an unusually valuable book on a difficult topic.

Is Nothing Sacred? : The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused, and the Congregation He Nearly Destroyed
by Marie M. Fortune

This book deals with the growing problem of male pastors sexually abusing their parishioners. What is intended to be a position of trust , is used in ways that can destroy lives. The pastor uses his power and pastoral office to victimize parishioners. The result is destruction of lives, marriages and sometimes congregations. I know the damage this can do, and of the problems people struggle with to put their lives back together. Ten years ago I left parish ministry in a congregation in the Midwest. I had spent two years there, following a pastor who had not only been sexually abusing that congregation, but also had been doing the same sexual abuse in his former parish. At that time the Bishop's office let him move, perhaps in hope against hope that he would not offend again. Now a strict policy has been formed to deal with the problem . There is also an effort to screen pastors to prevent such abuse by pastors... A few years ago, I heard Marie Fortune give a guest lecture at a Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. There were both male and female seminary students at the lecture, as well as a few pastors who had experienced the effects of a pastor who had sexually abused them or their congregation. Sadly, some of the male seminarians walked out of the lecture withn the first 15 minutes. August 9, 1999
Also see: Jack Kornfield
And: Stanislav Grof, Christina Grof

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