But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
–– Matthew 19:14.
It was bad enough that parents would bring their infants to Jesus that he might
touch and bless them, only to be impulsively, insensitively and imprudently rebuked by the Master’s very own disciples. It is much worse, that having grasped the significance of embracing the little children –– for such is of the kingdom of God –– that modern-day disciples and alleged defenders of the faith would yet abuse and defile the Almighty’s bright and beautiful creations.
When an impassioned Jesus told his Chosen Twelve of the parallel between embracing the little ones and receiving the kingdom of God with the humility a little child, he advised that those who had difficulty with grasping the corresponding meaning and form of the two “shall in no wise enter therein” –– the kingdom, that is.
No doubt, the Saviour would be even more furious on hearing Bishop Gerald Seale’s lamentation over the sexual child abuse in today’s church. Not that such nigh sacrilege is exactly unheard of. The Roman Catholic Church leadership has had its challenges with the several accusations against its priests over the years, and it has not been unknown for said church to have paid out millions in compensation and settlements –– majorly for young innocent boys.
And we may have come to believe all that was now way behind us. Actually, we wanted to!
Now to learn from Bishop Seale, head of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, that we could turn as much of a blind eye as we want and proudly pretend it isn’t happening as long as we could, the simple fact is that child abuse is occurring in “Christian” homes –– and in the church, to boot.
“So, let’s not pretend these things don’t happen within the church setting. We would like to believe it doesn’t happen often; but it happens more often than we think,” the bishop said at the People’s Cathedral’s monthly Men’s Ministry on Monday night.
Even more disconcerting, Bishop Seale had to let it be known that since taking up his position he had had people sit and talk with him about being sexual abused –– and apparently its long-term effects.
Not exactly the kind of picture we may dote upon in a low-key celebrated Child Month. At the start of this very month we had cause to refer to the report from the Barbados Child Care Board which showed that of the 823 referrals of abuse in the last year, 188 were for sexual impropriety by the marauding adults among us, second only to general neglect of 370 cases. Other reports were 185 for physical abuse, 78 for emotional abuse, and two for abandonment.
As for the sexual abuse, Child Care Board director Joan Crawford pointed out at a Press briefing that this depravity and criminality had been a “major concern” in the 12-to-16-year-old age group.
Sadly, some of us who would “suffer the little children to come unto [us]” would misconstrue the message of Jesus, and be tempted even more –– settled as they are in the bogs of immorality and perversion –– to further misinterpret the very theme of this year’s Child Month: Let’s Embrace And Appreciate Our Children.
We are at one with Bishop Seale on the Mandatory Reporting Of Child Protocol which reinforces that all cases of child abuse must be exposed and reported to the appropriate authorities with haste, and that confidentiality ought not to be any longer a protection from child abuse prosecution merely because the deed was admitted at a confessional.
As we have said before, the perpetrators of such baseness should be spared no public disgrace and incarceration. For, that such an affliction on our minors can be conceived of in the first place and pursued –– sometimes with impunity –– is unspeakable and unbearable to those of us with any moral comportment.
An end must be put to these depraved paedeophile acts. One abused little boy or girl is surely too many made to suffer negatively. And paedeophilia ought never to be a secret –– without or within church!