The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse is in its final stages. As I write, the final hearing for the Anglican church is underway, where the Commissioners are drawing together all that they have learned to make recommendations to us to make for a safer future.
I am grateful to God for this commission for bringing the darkness of child sexual abuse into the light, and for exposing the evil deeds of the perpetrators. It has not been comfortable for us, but confronting sin never is.
Of course the appropriate response for a Christian in the light of sin, is to turn to God in repentance. I am struck that on a number of occasions in the OT, prayers of repentance and confession include confessing the sins of the forebears, even when the people praying had not committed the actual sin. Read the confession in Daniel 9: 4-11 for an example of this, where verse 8 says: We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you.
This reminds us of our solidarity with those who have gone before us, and our participation in their shortcomings. I think it is appropriate that we continue to confess the sins of the past and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness. We need to continue to reach out to those who have survived abuse in Anglican churches and work for justice for them.
At a national level the Anglican church must work together so that we can have a common approach to responding to sexual abuse and making policies and procedures from Professional Standards, to Episcopal standards, common throughout our Dioceses. Our synod will have the chance to adopt some of this common legislation in the future, and I will be encouraging us to adopt it without amendment.
I am also talking with our Anglican Schools about having a common approach to caring for children and making their educational settings as safe as possible.
Bishop Richard Condie