Source: Seeds of Hope – Orthodox Christian Healing and Counseling
Malicious misconduct by an ecclesiastical leader manifests in many ways – emotionally, sexually, or financially. An abusive bishop, metropolitan, or clergy exploits their authority in ways that manipulate and control a Believer.
A spiritual leader abuses in multiple ways to cover their own rooted hurt failings. Lacking reconciliation themselves, their own weaknesses and unrepentant actions are exposed by unleashing and inflicting untold harm onto an innocent person. The abused absorbs this destructive mistreatment, neither aware, nor understanding why a leader would inflict this harm onto them.
Spiritual abuse is based on trust and the ecclesiastical authority which is perceived by the believer as true and absolute. This implied authority can blunt the awareness that abuse is wrong because the abuser brands any victim’s questioning or dissent as a weakness. This further guilts the victim for doubting the Church. Spiritual abuse is a grave betrayal of trust that has no rational basis; no reason to it that is justifiable or easily quantifiable.
The Church teaches that “The Priest is a Physician of the Soul”. However, now victimized by this “physician”, one must silently endure doubt and fear. When that trust is shattered, one feels the ultimate refuge – The Church – now becomes a destructive force – crushing one’s faith.
An ecclesiastical leader violating their vows, destroys the trust that strikes at the very core of Church doctrine. It annihilates a believer’s personal authentic sense of soul and faith which is the essence of Orthodoxy.
The trauma – financial, sexual, or emotional can be healed. It takes time, patience, and strength to begin the process. Our licensed Orthodox counselors will help you through the healing journey. Emotional wounds of spiritual abuse are often healed by recognition and reconciliation. Restore a belief, thereby the soul. Conversations about this trauma are important because it breaches the wall of silence the abuser imposes in order to maintain his control over his victim.
SEEDS of HOPE, Orthodox Christian Healing & Counseling is available to guide you. Let’s begin a conversation. The emotional devastation of abuse by authority will begin to lessen. Take the first steps now. Contact us at: [email protected], 877.560.1249.[subscribe2]
The article gives me the opportunity to talk about a different kind of “spiritual abuse” by briefly relating my own story: I served our beloved Orthodox Church as a priest for 48 years. After a 5-year struggle with cancer, my wife passed away; to be honest to my principles and resolve the unbearable depression and loneliness, I remarried. Our Church “returned” me to the status of a layman, by applying forged “canons” which are called “Apostolic,”in reality a forgery composed in the 4th century ( see “Apostolic Canons” on Internet). First,, there is no way you can return a priest to a lay status, priesthood is indelible; second the rules are false, a mixture of myopic and conservative monastic views about marriage, women, etc. Our Church has not reconciled herself with human nature and sexuality, thus committing spiritual and criminal abuse of power over people like me, with no recourse of advocacy. On the other hand, our hierarchy are constantly violating true Canons of the Church, by abusing their power and authority since they are like oligarchs who are not accountable to anyone. Am I wrong in insisting that I am victim of mental, spiritual (and physical) abuse?
Yes, you are wrong. You had three choices: buy a dog, dedicate your life to helping others, or join a monastery. You act like you are entitled… Rain falls on every garden. It sounds like you have trouble controlling your passions. There are millions of people who have suffered much more than you could ever dream of. …Many people would think that you have led a charmed life…
You’re very insensitive Peter Ray Millman……..please be more intelligent and wise when you post next time!!!!…
I am so sorry for your pain. I would not want to call that which you describe as spiritual abuse, because the word is thrown around too much. However, is it of course a lot of real grief of multiple sorts as well as the inner conflict that comes with being demoted to lay status that needs to be processed, sure. I think reaching out to one of these therapists would be a wise decision. Speaking as a female, I would be uncomfortable around a widowed priest who is able to marry again, because it kinda blurs the relationship.
Fr. Basil Papaniikolaou, I am a man who was married forty two plus years and lost the physical Ephrosini who fell asleep due to cancer. I have never been depressed or lonely for I have The Holy Spirit by my side. I throughout the day pray and read Scripture as well as read the Elders/Fathers of our Church. The prayer of the Heart is most spiritually rewarding and the day is with Sunshine. My five children tend to my needs including transporting me to my three Orthodox Churches…In The World and Not of The World…Papou Andoni
I find your words most uplifting and hopeful. To have so many blessed years with your Ephrosini then to further live in a peaceful god fearing life is a true testament to our Faith….In the World, not of the World…Sonya