Bp Thompson on Systemic Issues
BISHOP THOMPSON: I think there has been a generation that
has been totally ignorant of the trauma of child abuse, as
they have been ignorant of domestic violence, and have not
had the language to talk about it, and that includes the
church. I think a part of the challenge that we face is
people understanding the nature of trauma in child abuse.
We have set about, over the last 18 months, to have parish
recovery teams which enable a parish to come to terms with
the idea that their former priest, deceased or still alive,
has been an offender, and to have the capacity to help that
congregation to understand the impact of trauma in that
community – not only the trauma upon the survivor, but also
their family and the wider community. And a part of
I think a bottom-up change is helping communities
understand the long-term, lived trauma of those who have
experienced child abuse, and the reasons why they take 20,
30 years, or more, to come forward.
I think it is in the proximity of those stories of survivors
that there is a capacity for transformation and a
shift on the washing machine cycle of never getting a
national response. We need a clarity around how we will work
together as a national church and how we will collaborate.
I think we have not been good at collaborating on many tthings in
the national church. ( edit Req)
In fact, we have undermined a national response at many levels because we’ve had vested interests in our dioceses and our diocesan agendas.
But I think to help hearts and minds shift, the
balloon needs to be filled with the oxygen of change, and
hearts and minds I think can be changed when they are in a
position to understand the trauma that abuse has happened
and how people can find a way forward if they are
supported, and that there are consequences for the
community if they don’t deal with the trauma past.
I’m wrestling with people who still don’t believe the
trauma of child abuse, and still believe that those coming
forward are simply after financial return, and that those
who they loved and revered as their priests are still
innocent of all those – all the necessary information that
has come forward. It is as if their devotion to priests
and to the church comes before the genuine understanding of
the suffering that many families and individuals continue
to go through. So there needs to be a heart and mind
process, as well as a legislative national response.
17/03/2017 (260) 26677 PANEL 1.1
Transcript produced by DTI