Spiritual Abuse and the Abuse of Conscience
Podcast: Episode Nine
Episode nine of the Pope Francis Generation podcast is now live on Youtube and in podcast feeds!
On one hand, I felt the least prepared for this episode than any other. I didn’t really have an outline and felt like I was jumping into it. On the other hand, this is by far the most researched episode of the podcast because I’ve spent the past several weeks reading and writing for a research paper about spiritual abuse.
This topic is also personal for me because I have experienced spiritual abuse and the abuse of conscience. Sometimes this abuse was inflicted directly by leadership acting with malice, sometimes I was harmed by leaders being careless or negligent, and sometimes the damage happened indirectly via a Catholic culture that did not respect my conscience. I have also worked as a lay minister in the Catholic Church for quite a few years and have unfortunately contributed to that same religious culture that put others at risk for spiritual abuse. With my research, this podcast, and future resources I am working on, I hope to help make faith communities places of healing, respect, and personal growth, safe from coercion, shame, and harm.
This week, Paul shares some of the research he has been doing about spiritual abuse and the abuse of conscience in the Catholic Church. Him and Dominic discuss what spiritual abuse looks like, how we can prevent it, and how we can respond to those who have been wounded in a way that promotes healing without causing more harm.
“Abuse exists in various forms: the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience, sexual and financial abuse. Clearly, the ways of exercising authority that make all this possible have to be eradicated, and the irresponsibility and lack of transparency with which so many cases have been handled have to be challenged. The desire to dominate, lack of dialogue and transparency, forms of double life, spiritual emptiness, as well as psychological weaknesses, are the terrain on which corruption thrives” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit 98).
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ABOUT DOMINIC DE SOUZA SmartCatholics founder, Dominic de Souza, is a convert from radical traditionalism – inspired by WherePeterIs, Bishop Robert Barron, and Pope Francis. He is passionate about helping ordinary Catholics break the ‘bystander effect’, and be first responders. “We don’t have to be geniuses. We just have to show up with witness and kindness. Christ does the rest.” Today he hosts the SmartCatholics community.
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