FATHER SYMONDS REMOVED FROM DIVINE HEALING MINISTERIES WEBSITE
After a "concerned parishioner" from Ballymena expressed their concern to this Blog about Father Symonds (70) being one of the healing team at Divine Healing Ministeries his profile has been removed from the ministry website.
I do not see this in any sense as a "victory" for the Ballymena parishioner or this Blog.
In fact the Father Symonds story - like all the stories of people being hurt by clergy - is really a tragedy. These instances are first of all a tragedy for the innocent people who suffered. But they are also a tragedy for the clergyman involved.
But the first priority in all our minds MUST ALWAYS BE the protection of innocent children and vulnerable adults.
But as Christians we should also be capable of compassion and love for those who offend, sin and err - even in in this most serious of ways.
Irrational hatred and the angry clenched fist has never solved any problem and it never will.
We belong to a God who will forgive ANY and EVERY sin as long as the sinner is truly sorry for his/her sins.
I would imagine that a great part of Father Symonds problems stem from the fact that he was a secret homosexual living in an intolerant Church and society.
Sometimes when the normal sexual expressions have to be kept hidden and denied the normal healthy sexual appetite manifests itself in seriously disordered ways.
As my Dad used to say: "As the twig bends - so will the tree grow".
Sexual repression and denial finds easy targets in young people and vulnerable people.
Father Symonds is now 70 years old. Most people his age have been retired for 5 years at his age.
I think it might be wise for him to enter retirement or at least semi-retirement mode.
He can pray and even celebrate a private Eucharist with close friends.
He is reported to have inherited a large inheritance. Perhaps he could use his resources to discreetly help others in need - avoiding those areas and people which create vulnerabilities for others and for himself.