The Anglican Church in Tasmania is fully committed to providing restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors of sexual abuse through redress.
The Right Revd Dr Richard Condie, Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, today said, “We care deeply for survivors of sexual abuse and our primary concern is to ensure we can meet our redress obligations”.
Since receiving advice on April 5, the Anglican Church in Tasmania has been grappling with how it will fund its estimated liability of around $8 million in new and additional payments to survivors of child sexual abuse in the church.
The Diocesan Council (the church’s governing body) met on May 3 and endorsed a proposal for raising funds. The proposal is to use 25% of Parish and Diocesan funds and 25% of the proceeds of sale from 108 Anglican properties to form a Redress Fund.
Diocesan Council has commended the proposal which will be considered by the Synod (annual meeting of all parish representatives), which meets in June.
“Today we are releasing a preliminary list of properties proposed for sale. This list is not exhaustive and is not yet finalised. We are at the very beginning of the process,” said Bishop Condie.
“After Synod there will be a period, in which parishes can seek a review of the decision to sell a property, making a case for its exemption. Diocesan Council will make its final decision in December.
“Local communities are welcome to express their concerns about church property marked for sale. It will be best to do this when the list is finalised after the June Synod.
“We want to provide concerned members of the community with an opportunity to work out how they can help preserve part of Tasmania’s heritage, while allowing us to meet our redress obligations,” he said.
Community groups, councils or individuals who wish to make a representation to Diocesan Council, about church property marked for sale, can address their submission to the General Manager of the Diocese up until 1 September 2018.
The total proposed list to be considered by the Synod involves 108 properties, which includes 76 churches. The preliminary list released today details 78 properties, 55 of which are churches. This allows the Bishop to communicate with all affected communities.
Bishop Condie said, “I understand that the sale of churches and cemeteries causes pain and sadness for church members as well as the wider local community. They have been an important part of our Tasmanian heritage. However, our commitment to justice, recognition and support of survivors through providing redress underlies the need for this sacrifice”.
The heart of the Christian message is that the innocent one, Jesus of Nazareth, took the punishment for the sins of the whole world. Sins that he did not commit.
“Making a costly sacrifice to right past wrongs is a profoundly Christian thing to do, and most worshipping Anglicans I have spoken to in the last weeks are prepared to do it gladly,” said Bishop Condie.
“With Jesus as our model of costly sacrifice, the Anglican Church in Tasmania is fully committed to redress, whatever the cost,” he said.
“Our Vision is to be a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus. I believe that acknowledging the church’s past failures and making redress, honours Jesus and will bring restoration.”
The church has instituted many changes over the last fifteen years in order to protect children and prevent abuse. The safety of children and vulnerable people in our church communities is paramount. We have been working hard to screen, educate and develop church leaders and volunteers who are working with vulnerable people. We have improved our response to and support for survivors of sexual abuse. We have no tolerance for abuse of any kind.