Upon my election as Anglican Bishop of Tasmania in 2000, I began to hear the stories of people who had suffered child sexual abuse. At my first media conference I apologised to all victims of child sexual abuse.
As the crisis of the church’s failure to respond to child sexual abuse unfolded, I met more and more survivors, reports of abuse appeared in the media and a growing suspicion of clergy was palpable. I was out of my depth and in urgent need of guidance.
God’s gift to the Diocese in this darkest hour was an intelligent, wise and experienced advisor. Without her guidance I would have been at a loss. Despite my best intentions I would have compounded the pain of the survivors who came to see me.
My advisor wishes to remain anonymous but has agreed to make available to you the fruit of her experience and reflection in assisting churches to be better prepared to deal with the complex and varied issues involved when responding to child sexual abuse.
In the pages of her article, ‘Responding to sexual abuse in church settings’, you will find Spirit-given insight beyond our superficial understanding of this devastating tragedy. You will be led to a deeper appreciation of the issues confronting congregations and denominational leaders as we seek to respond to survivors and offenders and above all protect children.
May God help us to keep the child at the centre of all we undertake.
I wholeheartedly commend this article to you. The above photo is of the Content page.
Bishop John Harrower OAM
See also, ‘St Mark’s Review, Remembering our Future: response to the Royal Commission’ which 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).