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World The cleric taking on the church over a rapist priest

05:15  28 september  2020
05:15  28 september  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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She then took it to the church not only with the hope that the church would look into her alleged attack, but would address other allegations of sexual abuse. She says the reaction she got from the church was further silence, prompting her to go on her first hunger strike in 2016.

The church knew about his offending behavior and they ordained him. He continued to abuse from his ordination right through his entire career as a priest . And blocking remedies involving institutions is problematic, but I can also see why from the point of view of taking on the Roman Catholic Church it

Reverend June Major has been fighting for justice for 18 years, ever since she says she was raped by a fellow South African cleric.

She has undertaken various unorthodox protests in a bid to get the Anglican church of Southern Africa to open an investigation into her case and others.

On 9 August 2020, South Africa's women's day, Rev Major was among several women and activists who hung up underwear along the fence of the residence of the Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba.

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Over to Jay and Hollie Hollie: So I've started the week by waking up and browsing on social media in bed. Regrettably for someone who spends a lot of effort trying not to spend too much money on online shopping, I happened to stumble across a The cleric taking on the church over a rapist priest .

a close up of a wire fence © June Major

The women were protesting against what they said was inadequate action from the church over allegations of sexual misconduct by priests in the Anglican church of Southern Africa, including one who Rev Major says raped her.

"My fight isn't against the church, it's against the hierarchy and patriarchy that silences women, who tells us to keep quiet and who finds fault with us and allows the perpetrator to continue doing what they are doing," she told South African media.

But this was not the first time Rev Major had protested against the church's alleged silence on the issue.

'I was willing to die'

In 2016, Rev Major went on her first hunger strike.

Four years later, in July this year, she went on another hunger strike, this time camping next to 20 Bishopscourt in Cape Town, the official residence of Archbishop Makgoba.

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Over a decade passed and Harrington couldn't resist the call to the priesthood and reapplied to St. John's Seminary in 2002. Kevin Sepe, the former episcopal vicar of parish life and leadership of the archdiocese of Boston, that Harrington was hanging around the church and probably hearing

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"I was willing to die on that pavement, not only for myself, but for every woman and child who's been denied justice," she told the BBC.

According to Rev Major, she was attacked in 2002, while visiting a seminary.

Rev Major says the priest entered the room where they were being hosted by one of the families at the seminary and attacked her.

"I fought him off but at some point he had his hands around my throat. I didn't scream because there were children in the house. He left when he was done.

"I was shaky and frightened after. I just wanted to die. I called our other friend and told him what had happened," she explains, adding that her attacker came back a second time and only left after she told him that their friend knew about the assault.

A life of silence and fear

Since the attack 18 years ago, Rev Major says she has been living in misery.

"[A] friend advised that we should keep the matter between ourselves and my rapist promised he would never attempt such a thing again. I agreed since in a few months' time we would be living in separate towns and I thought that was enough closure."

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The king was keen to increase his control over the Church . Becket was made a priest , then a bishop, and finally the Archbishop of Canterbury in a matter of days. Henry hoped that Becket would work with him to bring the Church under control.

In the Catholic Church , the secular clergy are ordained ministers, such as deacons and priests Despite consistently upholding the doctrine of clerical celibacy, over the following centuries the The secular clergy, in which the hierarchy essentially resides, takes precedence over the regular clergy of

However, two years later, Rev Major decided to ask the church to have the matter investigated.

"I was again advised to keep quiet. I agreed, thinking I needed to protect the name of the church, an institution I loved very much. Unfortunately the silence took its toll on me."

Rev Major says she has constant nightmares and has a fear of staying in rooms that can't be locked, sometimes even sitting with her back against doors that can't lock.

"I never let people get too close to me, let alone men, because I was hurt by someone I considered close," she says.

Church accused of hypocrisy

It was only after someone she knew was involved in a rape case that Rev Major went public with her story, hoping that she would get some form of healing and inspire other victims to get the courage to report their attackers.

She first took her fight for justice to the police to open criminal proceedings but that did not bear any fruit.

She then took it to the church not only with the hope that the church would look into her alleged attack, but would address other allegations of sexual abuse.

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Pell, an Australian cleric , is the Catholic Church 's third most senior clergyman. The 77-year-old is the most senior Catholic to be charged with sexual offences. Sources also claimed the abuse took place after Pell introduced a compensation scheme for clerical sexual abuse victims known in Australia as

Priests are those clerics of religious traditions with codified temple rituals (be they sacrifice at the altar or liturgical function); they are generally "religious" in But on the other hand, note that Tolkien makes zero mention of priests or clerics of any kind in Middle Earth and no mention of explicit religion either.

She says the reaction she got from the church was further silence, prompting her to go on her first hunger strike in 2016. Only then, she says, did the church react - on the the seventh day of her hunger strike, the church administration promised to look into the matter. Rev Major, however, says nothing came of the promise.

The church says it urged her to ask the police to re-open investigations.

On 1 July, four years after her first such action, she says she felt compelled to go on another hunger strike, after what she felt was hypocrisy on the part of the church.

a person holding a kite while standing in front of a tent: Reverend Major set up camp opposite the archbishop's residence during her hunger strike © Henry Prince Reverend Major set up camp opposite the archbishop's residence during her hunger strike

"That same year I went on my first hunger strike, I lost my income as a priest. I wanted to move to a new job in Australia and hence resigned from my post. However, I needed a letter of recommendation to be able to start my new job.

"My letter, which initially had been promised, never came and I haven't been able to work as a priest ever since," says Rev Major.

She then opted to sue the church for loss of income. The matter is still in court.

"What angers me is that the archbishop speaks up against sex- and gender-based violence, and patriarchy, yet the reason I am where I am is because of inaction from the church.

"It's sad that as a woman you have to go to such extremes and put your body in danger, but I needed to speak to Makgoba to know what he would do about it [the rape case] and demand an internal investigation and some kind of justice," she says.

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What the church says

Six days after Rev Major went on hunger strike, she agreed to call it off after meeting Archbishop Makgoba.

He told her to put her demands in writing via email.

"The following Monday, the archbishop responded to me saying that they will start a disciplinary hearing and contact the prosecutor in the town the rape took place to re-open the case. Based on that, I stopped my hunger strike."

The church emailed her, saying it was "committed to ensure that the matter is addressed with the seriousness it deserves".

On its website, the Anglican Church of South Africa says it outlined the standards expected of clergy and office bearers in 2002. This was in a bid to address "the many forms of abuse of power that often affected women and children".

In 2018, a framework was put in place to address complaints and "create a safe church and in 2019, committed itself to create spaces where justice and restoration can take place".

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However, two years later, Rev Major and other gender activists hung underwear at the archbishop's gate in protest at what she termed a conflict of interest by members of the safe church committee, who are also members of the Anglican church tasked to investigate her case.

In a statement released on her Facebook page Rev Major said: "I believe that an investigation conducted by people who are on the payroll of, and aligned to the Church, would only serve to further victimize me."

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She wants the investigation to be carried out by an independent body. She has resolved this with the church and has agreed to go through with the process.

The church released its own statement, saying that Rev Major was free to hire lawyers and that the church was even willing to help her get support, should it deem it necessary.

Additionally, the church says that in response to Rev Major's concerns, it has "included a reputable part-time commissioner of the Gender Commission on the panel which will investigate her [Major's] complaint. It is hoped that this will provide her with an added level of trust and comfort with the process".

Past accusations

The Anglican Church of South Africa has faced several cases of sexual misconduct by its priests.

Thabo Makgoba wearing a suit and tie: Archbishop Makgoba has acknowledged that members of the church have previously been accused of sexual abuse © AFP Archbishop Makgoba has acknowledged that members of the church have previously been accused of sexual abuse

In 2018, award-winning South African author Ishtiyaq Shukri wrote an open letter stating he had faced years of sexual abuse at the hands of Anglican priests as a child.

Archbishop Makgoba apologised on behalf of the church for what he called past wrongs and the failure to address sexual abuse claims. Days later he revealed that several other victims had come forward, accusing some of the church's priests of sexual abuse.

The church has also announced other cases that are being looked into.

Rev Major has said that she is open to going through the Anglican church's investigative process.

In a statement, she said it was important for her and for the church that justice be served.

She said she had often considered pursuing the matter through the courts, rather than the church "but God made the calling on my life in the Anglican Church and that is where I believe He still calls me to be of service as His humble servant."

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