Earlier today, Anglican Watch announced the Episcopal Accountability Project via the following press release.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Employees with group medical coverage may be familiar with employee assistance programs, or EAP’s. But there’s a new EAP out there, designed to hold the Episcopal Church, its clergy and leadership accountable.
The Episcopal Accountability Project, or EAP, an initiative of online publication Anglican Watch, allows victims of abuse in the Episcopal Church to name the perpetrators and share their experiences. Whenever possible, the information collected will be investigated and published, thus promoting transparency, public awareness, and accountability.
“Far too often, the Episcopal Church talks a good game,” says Anglican Watch editor Eric Bonetti. “The church points to its sexual misconduct policies and Title IV disciplinary canons, and tries to convince members and the public that the church is a safe place.
“The reality, however, is far different in practice. Not only do dioceses routinely ignore the provisions of Title IV, including the requirement to offer a pastoral response in every case in which a complaint is made to an intake officer, but victims often find themselves at the mercy of a bishop whose primary goal is to protect clergy and the reputation of the church. When that happens, there is absolutely no recourse, and victims are traumatized a second time by not being taken seriously, by being brushed off, and by being blamed for the very misconduct they complained about. Moreover, several dioceses, including Massachusetts and Virginia, knowingly permit retaliation by clergy for filing a complaint.
“Additionally, the small size of the denomination allows it to fly under the radar, even as denominations like the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention draw scrutiny.
“The Episcopal Church has fallen woefully behind the times,” says Bonetti. “At one time, its sexual misconduct prevention policies were considered examples for every faith community. But today, the church rests on its laurels, even as it ignores bullying, relational abuse, narcissistic abuse, and other non-sexual misconduct. Yet the vast majority of abuse is non-sexual in nature. And many Catholic dioceses now have policies to address these issues. So why is the Episcopal Church ignoring these forms of abuse?
“Persons submitting information via the Episcopal Accountability Project can be assured that we will make every effort to protect confidentiality, except as may be otherwise mandated by law,” adds Bonetti. “We welcome reports of both sexual and non-sexual misconduct, and will publish information received whenever possible. We also maintain a central point of contact for abuse within the church — something the denomination refuses to do on its own, even as Southern Baptists and others implement these important measures.
“Since the Episcopal Church will not hold itself accountable, we will hold it publicly accountable. And while we support an inclusive church, inclusion does not mean “anything goes.” There is no legitimate role in the church for persons who abuse their positions, who engage in illegal conduct, who oppress others, or who turn a blind eye to misconduct. And we will assist victims in filing Title IV complaints if they wish to do so, or extending whatever help we can.
“While many will react negatively to our efforts, the reality is that calling the church and its members to accountability aligns with the Gospels and the Baptismal Covenant. Nor are we willing to shrug abuse off by saying, ‘That happened before I got here,’ or ‘it’s time to move on.’ Abusers don’t get to set the rules and church officials don’t get to ignore misconduct,” concludes Bonetti.
Founded in 2015, Anglican Watch discusses change, accountability and abuse, with an emphasis on the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. The publication is non-profit, receives no outside funding, and is dedicated to promoting accountability in the Anglican Communion.
Submissions to the Episcopal Accountability Project may be made online at anglicanwatch.com/episcopal-accountability-project. No personally identifying information is required. Arrangements can also be made via the website for reporting via Signal or other secure, anonymous means.