Forgiveness & Sex Abuse

by Michael Sean Winters

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Over at USAToday, Cathy Grossman has a post asking whether or not priests who abuse children should be forgiven and what that forgiveness implies for their return to ministry. She notes that retired Archbishop of Anchorage Frank Hurley asked this very question of his brother bishops. In his remarks, he suggested that returning priests to ministry should be a goal of the reconciliation process.

Archbishop Hurley is, to be sure, one of the most delightful people to ever wear a miter, but he could scracely be more wrong on this. Of course, all Christians are called to forgive those who trespass against them, and I suspect that a victim of child sex abuse will only be able to find healing in his or her own life when they can forgive those who abused them. But, such forgiveness has nothing to do with the sad fact that there is no cure for the abusers. They must be removed from ministry forever. Period.

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