I’m a layman in contact with a few episcopally-abused clergy from different dioceses.
The Church has defined a Code of Practice, covering the way the Clergy Discipline Measure is to be used. Tragically, the ministry of some targeted clergy has been demolished publicly by deviant processes. It is a cruel deviation, contrasting starkly with the way of Christ. Notwithstanding the clarity of Deut 17.6; 19.15/ Matt 18.16 /2 Cor 13.1 / 1 Tim 5.19/ Heb 10.28 I’ve heard of no instances of Bishops gathering eye-witness evidence. Bishops, it seems, manifest biblical illiteracy, routinely preferring their own opinions to rigorous judgment, once their minds are made up.
Yet one feature emerging in some cases is a seeming impenetrable darkness. The victims have seemingly been targeted by senior clergy, diocesan officeholders, and para-church organisations, from which one would expect a biblical basis for pastoral care, maybe including discipline—not to punish, but to build up the Body. Indeed, in perverse rejection of the Ordinal, quoted beneath. Misquoting Matthew’s gospel (4.16), “the people dwelling in light have now seen a great darkness”, for church-members who follow Christ have been overwhelmed with impenetrable darkness. Accounts offered by various involved parties simply do not “add up”. So, contested decisions are made without any action being taken, and inaction following year to year.
Bullying, as a well-developed tool, can be used to demolish a priest’s ministry. As in ventriloquism when a voice seems to come from another person, a bully can appear as a harmless, benign and gentle person to a bishop, whilst at the same time wreaking havoc in a church.
Scripture says: Those “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Tim 3.5). Before such ‘religious atheism’ started to infect some church leaders, these bullying techniques would have been described as evil; the work of the ”enemy”.
From the Ordinal:
Bishops are ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock
Bishops are called to serve and care for the flock of Christ. Mindful of the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, they are to love and pray for those committed to their charge, knowing their people and being known by them.
As chief pastors, it is their duty to share with their fellow presbyters the oversight of the Church, speaking in the name of God and expounding the gospel of salvation. With the Shepherd’s love, they are to be merciful, but with firmness; to minister discipline, but with compassion.
Will you promote peace and reconciliation in the Church and in the world; and will you strive for the visible unity of Christ’s Church?
Will you accept the discipline of this Church, exercising authority with justice, courtesy and love, and always holding before you the example of Christ?
Give him humility,
that he may use his authority to heal, not to hurt;
to build up, not to destroy.