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Restoring the Image of God

All persons are made in the Image of God. When we abuse our sisters and brothers in Christ we deface the face of God. The face of an individual is equivalent to the person: prosopon (Greek) and persona (Latin). 

 

Prosopon Healing has come into existence to bring the healing of Christ to those who have been abused by "clergy" (priests, deacons, staff members and volunteers) within the Orthodox church community. Because such abuse causes a rupture within the community, healing must also take place within the relational aspect of a community. Research shows that healing is quicker and healthier in communities that acknowledge the abuse and wrongdoing. Prosopon Healing provides healing resources for those who are being abused or have been abused by clergy. 

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Defining "Clergy"Abuse

Clergy abuse occurs in all religious contexts, including within our Orthodox churches. Clergy abuse can be spiritual abuse, physical abuse, or sexual contact between a priest, bishop or deacon and parishioner/counselee. There is no consent involving unequal power, and clergy are always in a position of greater power over laity since they administer the sacraments of the church.

When caught, a clergy may refer to their abuse as a “relationship” or an “affair” or may even provide this language to the person that they have victimized. This is often part of the mechanism of clergy abuse. An affair is between two consenting adults of equal power. There can never be true consent involving a parishioner and a member of the clergy, therefore, clergy abuse is never an affair or "consensual".

Often, there is a period where the clergy has selected, tested, and groomed the victim. Clergy abuse is never the victim’s fault. 

Clergy abuse is currently a criminal offense in 13 states and the District of Columbia (with more states adding legislation) and this means that clergy cannot use the defense that their abuse was in fact "consensual".   

 

False accusations are extremely rare. Most people coming forward with allegations of clergy sexual abuse are telling the truth and immediate care for the victim is needed. 

Reporting Clergy Abuse

The unequal power between a clergy and a parishioner means there can be "no consent". Therefore, any unwanted sexualized touch in this circumstance is sexual assault. The first call should be to law enforcement. 

 

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Healing

Clergy abuse is a defacement of God's image, which leads to trauma that requires specialized healing. 

  

The meaning of Priesthood

Clergy abuse is predatory behavior who often masquerade as priests. The Office of the Holy Priesthood has high standards. ​

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Resources

Books on the dynamics of clergy abuse and healing from clergy and church abuse. 

Online Resources

Useful links

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