The Deacon's Bench

According to this blogger — a clergywoman in the Episcopal church — the answer is decidedly mixed. 

From Rev. Ann Fontaine, over at Episcopal Cafe:

EPISCOPAL_SHIELD_BEST.jpgWe have our own history of the abuse of power, secrecy, and denial. It was not until the ’70s and ’80s that these abuses were finally addressed by the Church and the General Convention began work on revising the canons and to encourage dioceses to provide procedures and training.

Women clergy began to hear the stories of child and youth sexual abuse by clergy in the late 70s and early 80s. Women had only been ordained since 1974. A few women across the denominations met to compare notes. In the meantime lawsuits were beginning to emerge when the church would not respond to the suffering. The insurance companies were getting worried about providing liability insurance when churches knew about abuse and passed a priest on to another place. While I was serving on the Executive Council from 1985-91, Ellen Cooke, Treasurer, reported to the Presiding Bishop and the Council that something needed to be done both for pastoral and fiduciary reasons.

General Convention began to act. In 1985, a resolution passed to request Dioceses to conduct workshops on recognizing child sexual abuse. In 1991, a Committee on Sexual Exploitation was established. During this period several women clergy and some attorneys who had been providing legal counsel for abuse victims/survivors developed training for Bishops and other leaders to teach the church about the issue and how to deal with perpetrators and victims/survivors. It was clear that TEC did not have canons or procedures to guide this work, so several of us proposed a resolution for the next General Convention.

The bishops did not think the time was right for this action but we pressed ahead. The women of the Episcopal Church – Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Episcopal Church Women, Daughters of the King, and others mobilized to lobby both Houses and to talk their bishops about the importance of immediate action by the church. Abuse victims/survivors came to testify, often the first time they had told their stories in public. 1997 saw a number of resolutions including the revision of Title IV (disciplinary canons) passed. (The history of resolutions is here.) The Bishop’s Pastoral Office led by the Rt. Rev. Harold (Hoppy) Hopkins was a key supporter of funding, education, developing training and facing the issues of abuses and exploitation.

In 2009 another revision of the Title IV canons was passed to set up a procedure that is more like the professional standards of conduct in other professions. The original revisions were based on the Military Code of Justice that while providing a way to deal with abuse and exploitation have proved very difficult to use.

Since the days of these early cases the work to stop abuse in the Episcopal Church has a mixed record. In my work as a member of committees proposing and acting on guidelines for action and as a advocate for those who have suffered abuse and exploitation, I see the Episcopal Church is currently doing much better work but with areas that are still lacking.

Read more at the link for a fuller explanation.

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