Can a Clergyperson be Restored to Ministry after Sexual Misconduct?
Hopkins, Nancy Myer and Laaser, Mark, eds., Restoring the Soul of a Church. Collegeville, Minn: Order of St. Benedict, Inc., 1995, p. 135-137.
Below is a list of ten conditions necessary for favorable consideration of restoration to active ministry by a recovering clergy sexual offender. The list is not exhaustive; there are likely to be additional issues that arise in specific cases. And even if all are conscientiously fulfilled they do not guarantee an absolutely risk-free result.
1. The recovering offender admits wrongdoing.
2. The recovering offender cooperates willingly with an imposed discipline.
3. The offender participates willingly in individual, family, and/or group therapy, as deemed appropriate.
4. The recovering offender willingly attempts to make amends to any injured individuals or communities.
5. The recovering offender gives strong evidence of having learned about his or her own psychological issues and personal psychosexual dynamics.
6. The recovering offender understands and cooperates with any safeguards and/or conditions connected with return to the exercise of ministry.
7. The recovering offender receives an evaluation from an appropriately accredited institution and/or therapist indicating that he or she is not at risk to repeat the offending behavior.
8. The “community” in which the recovering offender intends to exercise iministry is informed as fully as possible about the circumstances of the offense(s) and comes to substantive agreement about the offender’s return to ministry.
People who may receive a recovering offender’s ministry have a right to know as much about the situation as possible, however, protection of innocent persons must always be kept in mind. Presumably, opinions about the recovering offender’s return to ministry will not be unanimous. Though any primary victim(s) of the offender’s ministry will presumably not continue to be recipients of the recovering cleric’s ministry, it is important that such persons be informed and consulted in advance about any intended return to ministry.
9. The recovering offender personally desires to return to the exercise of ministry and understands the issues and problems likely to be connected to that return.
10. The recovering cleric has ready access to ongoing support systems and gives evidence of willingness to make regular use of them.