The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, August 19, 2010
Zen Studies Society Announces Ethics Investigation; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])
We are grateful to see that an investigation has been launched into alleged sexual misconduct in the Buddhist community. Such internal probes in religious bodies worry us. We have more confidence in secular officials than in religious officials. But this is, at least, a start.
We applaud the brave victim of this Buddhist official who is coming forward. At the same time, however, we seriously doubt that there is only one woman who has been exploited by him. We urge anyone who has been hurt in Buddhist settings to come forward, get help, protect others and start healing.
We take little comfort in such vague phrases from Buddhist officials as “occurrences of improper relationships between teachers and students.” If there is to be real healing and effective prevention, the whole truth must be disclosed, however alarming it may be.
And we’re disturbed by language Buddhist officials are using that suggests this was somehow sex between two equals. It wasn’t. It can’t be, given the inherent power difference between a spiritual authority figure and an adherent.
It is much like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. It's the duty of everyone in a religious institution to help congregants understand this.
An educated, allegedly holy man who holds any revered title (minister, priest, etc.) cannot ever have truly consensual and/or healthy sexual contact (whether once or repeatedly) with a congregant. It is always morally wrong and psychologically harmful.
We’re grateful the Buddhists are bringing in the FaithTrust Institute, a very respected organization, to help with this matter. They, however, aren’t miracle workers. Unless the New York Buddhist community faces this scandal squarely and insists that the full truth be revealed and all wrong-doers disciplined, it will continue to fester and victims will continue ao suffer and adherents will continue to be vulnerable.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 3-14-503-0003 cell)
Here’s the official announcement from the Buddhists:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Zen Studies Society Announces Ethics Investigation
The Zen Studies Society (ZSS) recently revised and posted updated Guidelines for Ethical Behavior, including a grievance procedure, (www.daibosatsu.org/ethical.html). Late in June of this year, a woman revealed that there was an inappropriate relationship between herself and Eido Roshi. Shortly thereafter Eido Roshi and his wife Aiho-san resigned from the Board of Directors to assist us in honestly processing this matter. The ZSS board is committed to fully investigating, clarifying and bringing resolution to all breaches of our ethical guidelines. After discussion with senior members of the American Zen Teachers Association, the ZSS board decided to seek professional assistance from the FaithTrust Institute, a multifaith organization that addresses ethical violations by spiritual leaders, to move this process forward with openness and compassion for all.
In addition the Board has embarked on a review of organizational and financial structures.
The Zen Studies Society acknowledges that there have been occurrences of improper relationships between teachers and students. In the past, attempts to address concerns about such relationships were not satisfactory. The present board has revised and posted the following Guidelines for Ethical Behavior, including a grievance procedure. The board is adamant that these guidelines be upheld.
We are grateful beyond words for the incomparable gift of Eido Roshi’s Dharma treasure, and for his unstinting efforts to root Rinzai Zen Buddhism in American soil. Ever at home in the unconditional realm, he spurs us to go beyond the relative vista.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the world of causation; each of our actions has a result. On July 4, 2010, Eido Shimano Roshi and his wife, Aiho-san Shimano, stepped down from the board of directors of the Zen Studies Society (ZSS). This was prompted when a recent inappropriate relationship was revealed between a student and Roshi. The ZSS is committed to fully investigating, clarifying and bringing resolution to this matter.
It was with deepest gratitude and respect for their years of service to this organization and their efforts to assist us in honestly processing this matter, that their resignations from the ZSS Board were accepted.
Shinge Roshi Roko Sherry Chayat, who will be installed as Vice Abbot, Dec. 31, 2010, will offer dokusan from January 2011 on. Roshi will actively continue in his role as Abbot of the society until he retires, April 8, 2012, but he will not be seeing new students for dokusan. Eido Roshi has said he will remain committed to ordained and long-time students for as long as his health allows.
After discussion with senior members of the American Zen Teachers Association, the ZSS Board has decided to seek professional assistance from the FaithTrust Institute, a multifaith organization that addresses ethical violations by spiritual leaders.
If you are reading this and feel your concerns have not been acknowledged or heard, or are aware of ethical matters that need to be addressed, please email your written communication to the ethics committee. With guidance from the FaithTrust Institute, the Ethics Committee will respond and process every communication we receive in a timely and appropriate manner. The Zen Studies Society Ethics Committee can be reached by emailing [email protected].
In addition, the Board will be reviewing the organizational and financial structures of the Zen Studies Society. The Board asks for your support as we undertake these painful but necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the Zen Studies Society and its future as a sound and healthy organization. The ZSS Board can be reached at [email protected].
New York Zendo Shobo-Ji
Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji
The Zen Studies Society, Inc. is a non-profit religious organization.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests