Well, I had purposed in my heart, just prior to this weekend, of foregoing any particular presidential address or even observations. But then the events that took place at the Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, yesterday morning caused me to pause. Then, this morning, I received an email from a fellow CPSP Diplomate, and he challenged me that I or CPSP should call for a meeting of our cognate colleagues to speak to this and the other hate crimes that have recently occurred.…
The Diplomate complimented General Secretary Raymond’s response in the Pastoral Report to that horrific mass murder in Pittsburgh. That piece, which I thought was very good and especially prompt to this event, addressed issues of justice, leadership, and the lack of civility in our current social situation in this country. The Diplomate challenged me personally to reach out to the various leaders of the other pastoral care cognate groups and that we should call a meeting to discuss -- as a unified group within our profession -- our current national situation. And that this group of our national pastoral care leaders should produce a statement that we reject—openly, publicly and collectively reject—racism, sexism, supremacism, along with some of the very questionable leadership and statements and tweets that we’ve heard from some of our nation’s leaders of late. The Diplomate emphatically argued that we should gather the leadership of CPSP and invite the other cognate groups to come to the table, talk, and reach a mutual statement of such. And that triggered something within me this morning, namely that….
A few months ago, in late June, you’ll recall that the immigration service made the decision they would stop at the border families seeking a better life, a safer life, a real possibility for a future life for themselves and for their families. But things changed this summer. The Administration made the decision not only to stop them, but to separate children—very young children—from their parents. That drastic change was immoral in my mind. I reached out to the various North American pastoral care cognate groups. These are organizations of chaplains and pastoral counselors that I’ve known over the years and through my COMISS background. I reached out specifically to the leadership of each of these groups and said, “Hey, now’s a good time for us to come to the table as cognate groups and make a unified, declarative statement. The border authorities are separating families. There are reports of physical and psychological abuse of these separated little children and young people. The major secular mental health certifying organizations have already made strong statements. This is a time when people of pastoral concern and theological undergirding should stand up and say, ‘No, this ought not be done!’” You don’t separate puppies and kittens from their parents; why on earth should we do this to human beings?
So I reached out a few months ago as a Co-president of CPSP sending a mass email to these colleagues and made that plea. I didn’t hear from several of them. But some of them whom I did hear from said, “That’s just too political of a statement for us to make. We’re afraid we might be offending our constituents.” And that was profoundly disappointing to me on several levels, but not the least of which is: If people of conscience, if people of theological conviction and pastoral concern will not stand-up and speak to such horrible events at our own borders, when can we make a stand? When will we say something? Is there any event when we, as a collective discipline, should say something?
So it made me proud this morning, when I was reflecting on our colleagues’ earlier response(s), that at least CPSP’s leadership has taken a stance -- and we’re not particularly concerned about who we may or may not offend when the stakes are so profound. You know, regardless of what supremacists are out there, regardless of what racists, sexists, and hate-filled people are living among us whom we might offend (and who might somehow be a part of our constituency), we take a bold stand! We take a courageous stand when the cause or causes are right—humanitarian causes, justice causes. This makes me proud to be a part of CPSP.
And those are my comments for today.
Editor’s Note: On October 30th ACPE published a statement representing “associations” representing most of the organizations referred to by David Plummer, CPSP Co-President, in his remarks to the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy’s Governing Council meeting on October 28, 2018. CPSP was not invited by ACPE to participate in a joint statement regardless of Plummer’s request.
The ACPE statement in response to the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:
“In regards to the events of Saturday, October 27,
As associations committed to the spiritual care of people of all faiths and those who have none, we unequivocally denounce the anti-Semitism that fueled the hateful murders of eleven people last Saturday. We honor the sacred spaces and the gift of Shabbat and are horrified by the events at Tree of Life Synagogue. We represent over 10,000 spiritual care givers who are often the first responders when victims and their families come to hospitals, who stay in those hospitals with physicians and staff, who receive them in clinical settings for on-going post-traumatic care, caring for all of the members of our communities well past the moment of crisis. We ask that our political and faith leaders stand with us in rejecting this heinous act and work with us to be about "tikkun olam," the Hebrew expression for the work of healing the world.”
The CPSP public statement crafted by Raymond Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary, in response to the hate crime and killing in Pittsburgh: