Sunday, April 13, 2008

Clergy 'bullied by parishioners'

From the BBC news website today. An interesting story I thought. I don`t think it is confined to the Church of England. I know of one priest who was subject to this and when he challenged the offender for his arrogance got the reply that `arrogance is a gift`!

Members of the clergy are being bullied by parishioners while the Church is doing little to prevent it, a trade union has claimed.

Unite [ a trade union] says vicars are experiencing psychological, emotional, verbal and physical abuse.
It blames the "pressures of modern society" for the increase in the number of bullying cases.
The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England insists it is listening to priests and taking action.

'Out of control'
Rachel Maskell, of Unite, told the BBC that the bullying could take various forms "and every story is different".

"For example a group of one or two powerful people in any congregation may not like the style of worship, the times of meetings and even when the main activities are taking place in the Church," she said.

"But these campaigns seem to get out of control and rapidly turn into little campaign against the minister.

"It could be in the forms of letters to start with and then complaints being made, often to the bishop themselves."

She said bishops were "hiding behind the legal technicalities of the situation", but that they had a "moral duty to act expediently when they see one of their ministers in distress".

She gave one example of a minister who was off sick due to bullying, and had only had one meeting with their bishop in seven months.

"Frankly we believe that the bishops shouldn't be crossing the road to the other side, as happens in the great parable of the Good Samaritan, but should be actually supporting their ministers."

Bullying 'intolerable'
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer - who chairs the committee of the Archbishops' Council which deals with clergy's conditions of service - said bishops were taking action.

For example, next month they were producing a document entitled Dignity at Work.

This would declare both that harassment and bullying were intolerable and also give ways in which dioceses could help in such situations.

"Although these cases are rare, there are instances where co-operation between clergy and church councils does break down," he said.

"I think I believe that bishops do respond when they see ministers in distress.

"I do think there is a difficulty in that we are dealing with a situation where cooperation is necessary.

"One of the difficult things is that often the allegations of bullying are made by both sides - both bullying of clergy and bullying by clergy - and that's why I would want to move towards a situation in which mediation is used much more often than it is now."


Volpius Leonius said...

When you have a defined hiearchy as we do the solution should be a simple one. Excomunication of the offending lay person, and if necessary a good punch in the mouth.

No one gets more angry about certain priests than I, but I know better than to act on it, you respect the position of Priest like you should respect your own Father.

If you ever have any trouble like this Father you can count on my support just email me and I'll be on the first train to Newcastle.

If they want to run a parish they should make the sacrifices a priest makes for God. There is alot of truth in the saying that some people take kindness for weakness.

Father Kuyte would have known how to deal with them ;)

Et Expecto said...

The most interesting thing about this story is the lack of understanding of English grammar on the part of the trade union official.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Et expecto, I didn`t think it was the only interesting thing. I had a number of phone calls drawing my attention to the story so it must have struck a chord with people.

Anonymous said...

As volpius leonius commented "a priest should be respected as your own Father is". Sadly in this day and age so many people have little or no respect for their own Father or anyone else's for that matter.
A priest is there to do God's bidding would these bullies treat God himself in this way if he appeared in human form on the altar? No they would not, they would be crying and begging for his forgiveness, they don't appear to realise they will have to answer for their ways on their own day of judgement. I agree with the statement "perhaps they think kindness equals weakness"., How wrong can you be, would they have the stregth and determination to answer God's call to the priesthood I think not. I am fed up with these so called Christian's moaning and demanding their wishes be met, but where are they when the Priest of the Parish himslef requests some help and support, off like a shot that's where they are, they don't wish to know. Yes I agree a few good punches in the mouth may shut them up. God forgive me, but they too also need to beg his forgiveness for their cruel words and actions.