Church abuse stumbling block to belief

Recent article from the Anglican Communion News Service:

Church abuse is the chief obstacle to Australians believing in Christianity, according to a national online survey of more than 1000 people conducted by a Christian media group.

The Australian Communities Report said more than three-quarters of respondents, 76%, said church abuse was a “massive” or “significant” negative influence on their attitudes towards Christianity and church.

It said the top 10 “belief blockers” for Christianity were church abuse, hypocrisy, “judging others”, religious wars, suffering, issues around money, that it was “outdated”, Hell and condemnation, homosexuality and exclusivity.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Australian Anglican Church commissioned a major research project to help strengthen its child protection protocols. The full report has been published and is available online. I wrote an article upon its release and the link to the report is at: Continuing our commitment to safe church communities.

The Tasmanian Anglican Church’s response to abuse is found in our

Safe Church Communities Program of training and endorsement to ensure that church workers are supported in their roles and have the skills and knowledge to contribute significantly to the development of safe and healthy church communities.

Sexual abuse is a crime and is never acceptable. It has enormous impact on victims and their family and friends.

I successfully moved a motion, with long time friend and colleague Bishop David Farrer, that the Anglican Church of Australia apologise for sexual abuse within the Church. The motion was unanimous and we stood and said the motion as a prayer at the General Synod (the parliament of the national Anglican Church). This occasion of prayerful and humble apology remains  one of the most emotional moments in my life. We were overwhelmed by the tragedy and sought God’s help and resolve in continuing to confront this evil in our midst.

That this General Synod and we as members of it acknowledge with deep regret and repentance the past failings of the Church and its members. On behalf of the whole Anglican Church in this country we apologise unreservedly to those who have been harmed by sexual abuse perpetrated by people holding positions of power and trust in the Church. We apologise for the shameful way we actively worked against and discouraged those who came to us and reported abuse. We are ashamed to acknowledge that we only took notice when the survivors of abuse became a threat to us. We apologise and ask forgiveness for the Church’s failure at many levels to listen to and acknowledge the plight of those who have been abused, to take adequate steps to assist them, and to prevent abuse from happening or recurring. We commit the Church to listen to survivors of abuse to respond with compassion to all those who have been harmed, both to those who have come forward and to those who may choose to do so in the future, and to deal appropriately, transparently and fairly with those accused of abuse and negligence.

The motion/prayer is found here, Apology for sexual abuse.

In Tasmania we held pastoral services of prayer and reflection, Out of the Depths,

  • for any who have been sexually abused in the church.
  • for any who have been sexually abused in the family or community.
  • for all those who love and care for them

and open to all those who wish to support survivors, lament our brokenness and pray for healing.

More on Safe Church Communities at, Safe Church Communities.

In all of this tragedy of sexual abuse, the Church has failed both Jesus Christ and his people. As we seek to re-establish the way of Christ we must accept that too often we have failed, seek forgiveness, build safe church communities and keep on looking to Jesus, our Redeemer and Source of hope.

May God have mercy on us and strengthen us to fight evil and nurture life in the name of Christ. Amen.

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