Editorial

Let justice run its course...even in the church

Friday, August 23, 2019

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Yesterday's edition of the Jamaica Observer carried a banner story that should evoke much concern.

It details that an accused senior member of the Salvation Army in Jamaica has been sent on pre-retirement leave before the conclusion of investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct from at least two women.

While we make no judgement of guilt in the matter, the principle of natural justice, comprising the duty to act fairly, must always be exercised.

The alleged victims must be heard and the accused must be given an opportunity to face his accusers.

This newspaper initially carried the allegations in May of this year and it was expected that a comprehensive probe would have followed.

That the Salvation Army's heads would have placed the accused in the departure lounge before all matters had been laid bare does not in any way advance the pursuit of justice.

Instead, the failure to air the matter clouds the ability to have justice “seen to have been done”.

It is expected that religious organisations hold themselves to the same principles and commandments preached from the pulpit, and so any seeming departure from same would warrant more than a raised eyebrow.

News coverage is replete with accusation against leaders in the Roman Catholic Church playing musical chairs with clergymen accused of impropriety, especially of a sexual nature, and it would seem that the Salvation Army has drawn a tactic from that playbook.

We are aware that written reports have been submitted to the Salvation Army, but wonder if at any time the expertise of the police in such matters was ever consulted.

If, in fact, the Salvation Army has completed its investigations, it would behove them to advise as to their findings.

The work and mission of the Salvation Army in Jamaica have been far too impactful and successful to have its decades-long relationship with the people of Jamaica marred by acts of a clandestine nature by its heads.

Salvation Army International, located in the United Kingdom, too, must defend its legacy, and this can only be secured by a comprehensive inquiry into the allegations and the necessary counselling and reparatory interventions taken. Anything short of this would have served as a blot on the white uniforms of the church organisation.

There is still time, however, and the church leaders must see this experience as their trial, cognisant that the truth needs to be revealed and that the authority of Christ as the judge in all matters will bring everyone to redemption.

The duty rests with the new leader to see this through, as his term in office cannot truly achieve its faithful purpose if it begins with shoving an issue such as this under the carpet.


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