“We share (Prime Minister) Scott Morrison’s convictions that churches must be kept accountable and “on the hook”, and that only concrete action can give practical meaning to the apologies that various churches have already offered. To that end, this issue of St Mark’s Review offers constructive proposals for how Australian churches might respond to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that were handed down earlier this (2018) year).”
You can read the Editor’s Introduction: Remembering our Future which includes the index of the six articles.
This issue of the Journal is available for purchase here, as are each of the six articles, including a summary of each one’s content, found here. Note, the Journal’s modest price, $17.50, and articles $4, cover the costs of the Journal and I receive no remuneration for the article I contributed – I’m ‘the Anglican bishop’! – see following.
“There is a range of voices and perspectives here: from theologians and ethicists, both local and international; from a barrister who has worked extensively with the Anglican Church of Australia; from a clinical counsellor; and from an Anglican bishop. The focus here is on constructive, intentional, and targeted proposals that can move churches beyond what one article contributor describes as mere “words and handwringing, to church cultures that are robustly safe for every child encountering them.” The following articles deal predominantly with the Anglican Church of Australia, along with one article specifically relating to the Catholic Church in Australia.”
Abstract of my article, How Australian churches might respond individually and collectively to the royal commission and its findings – Issue 245 (Oct 2018)
Abstract: My passion in putting pen to paper for this article is simple: The child must be front and centre of all that we do.
“I will set the scene by outlining an early experience with a survivor of child sexual abuse and seek to draw out some emerging themes for our continuing vigilance and action in the churches’ responses to child sexual abuse. My story is one of learning from misunderstanding and mistakes, from empathy and actions, all made in seeking to work and walk with survivors. My track record is far from perfect, and I am grateful to the survivors who in anguish and vulnerability shared the evil of their abuse and suffering, and its destructive consequences on their lives. This essay is a work in progress. If time permitted, I would want to sit for a while in a safe place with a survivor to write again. I suspect that every survivor would retell his or her experience differently now, each shaped by his or her re-traumatisation, and by the faltering and too often backward steps of our churches’ responses.”
What the Editor’s Introduction, page 4, said,
“John Harrower, the current Bishop assisting the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, likewise draws powerfully on lessons learned from his experience of working and walking with the survivors of sexual abuse. He calls for a kind of discipleship that moves beyond mere strategy, structure, and compliance. Instead, he emphasises the need for deep empathetic listening and apology, and for better acknowledgement of the courage it has taken for survivors to come forward. But there are other practical needs: the need to pay attention to processes of socialisation in culture formation, the need for bishops to exercise courage and moral leadership, the need for further consideration of the role of the media in holding the church to account, and the need for making pastoral and liturgical resources available. Like Cameron, he stresses the importance of auditing, coaching, mentoring, professional supervision, and peer support for church leaders.”
May we have the heart and will to act, putting the child at front and centre of all that we do.