In its two years of study, listening and discernment, the Panel heard victims/survivors (and their advocates) describe a constellation of feelings and responses to their circumstances and situations:
- Loneliness from the real and/or perceived isolation of the congregation, friends, family and other members of their support system.
- Confusion regarding so much: Why has this happened? How could it happen? Who can I trust? Who's to blame? What will happen? Will I be loved?
- Fear permeates even areas of living that are remote to the misconduct.
- Anger seeps into and emerges in even the most unlikely places.
- Betrayal, on every level, is a dominant and lingering feeling by victims/survivors.
In spite of these feelings and responses to misconduct, the Panel was impressed, heartened and, frankly, often amazed, given the intensity of experiences and feelings, at the commitment many victims/survivors have made (directly and indirectly) to restoring mutual trust and support in their congregation, among their family and friends, in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). In spite of the emotional and spiritual wounds that remain open or that have scarred, the overarching goal for many is restoration of the covenant, not retribution for offenses against them. Of course justice must be served, but let it be restorative and not retributive justice.
The Panel affirmed that we are seeking a just ministry and response to clergy sexual misconduct reflective of these characteristics:
- Compassion for victims/survivors. Without compassion there can be no ministry; without ministry, all responses will be shallow ones.
- Clarity of the process for victims/survivors as well as those providing ministry and response.
- Fairness so that ministry and response are equitable and even-handed.
- Confidence in the process and personnel, regardless of where it starts and who is involved.
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