It includes allegations, not surprising, that ACNA mishandled its investigation into the Claire’s alleged misconduct. But even as badly handled as the situation is, it’s far better than the Episcopal Church’s handling of spiritual abuse involving perjuring priest Bob Malm. (Full disclosure: Anglican Watch editor Eric Bonetti was one of Malm’s victims.) Or any other allegation of spiritual abuse, for that matter.
Over the course of several months in 2020, multiple individuals filed complaints with the ACNA. Among the allegations, as reported by Julie Roys: Rev. Claire betrayed pastoral confidences, misused his ecclesial authority to control and manipulate people under his pastoral authority, disclosed and misused mental health histories in order to discredit people, and ostracized and slandered parishioners who attempted to challenge any of his questionable behavior,” the letter on the anti-abuse platform ACNAtoo says. It also cites allegations of “victim blaming and defamation in cases of sexual impropriety.” George Sumner, here we come.
ACNAtoo subsequently issued an open letter to the Diocese of Christ our Hope, which is republished in PDF below. For the record, fabrications involving mental health issues are a favorite trick of narcissists and sociopaths and very common when someone pokes holes in the “veil of illusion” around a narcissist. Thus, we have heard similar allegations far too often and in all denominations. We therefore find these allegations credible and believe the victims.
It’s also important to know that denizens of the so-called “dark triad” in psychology (Machiavellianism, narcissism, psycopathy) can appear innocent and guileless when confronted by judicatories. And because their actions are typically rehearsed, persons of this ilk will practice their facial expressions, wear clothing that makes them look innocent (think Marian blue), and lie like crazy to protect themselves.
Thus, only a skilled investigator is likely to comprehend the scope and nature of any misconduct.
We also encourage the #ACNAtoo victims NOT to agree to diocesan gag orders. These are invariably for the protection of the diocese and the accused, and we have yet to see an investigation derailed because someone spoke out. We stand with the victims of spiritual abuse in ACNA and all other houses of worship. And we believe Claire should be removed from active ministry, effective immediately. Lastly, our usual language to the inevitable lawyers: These are all allegations. But we find them convincing and believe the complainants.