Synod Prays for Forgiveness for Child Abuse
By Kelly Burke
Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
October 7, 2004
An emotionally charged minute's silence, followed by a prayer pleading for God's forgiveness, opened the fifth day of the Anglican Church's general synod.
In recognition of the hundreds of children abused while in the church's care, the 240-strong parliament rose to its feet in silent contrition, after the Primate, Peter Carnley, read the church's formal apology.
The church acknowledged, "with deep sadness and regret", that a significant number of children had suffered physical and sexual assault, and many more had suffered abuse and neglect, while in institutional care provided by Anglican churches and charities.
"The church deeply regrets that its institutions and personnel did not always provide environments in which these children were protected and nurtured," the apology read.
Phillip Aspinall, the Archbishop of Brisbane, said the stories of child abuse were "horrific and heartbreaking".
The apology was prompted by the Forgotten Australians Senate inquiry report on children in institutional care.
The apology also served as a sombre introduction to a discussion on measures to deal with sex abuse among clergy and disciplinary action against bishops and archbishops accused of abuse, or if they fail to deal effectively with allegations.
Under legislation expected to be ratified today, bishops will face the same disciplinary measures as clergy, and must abide by the same code of conduct for clergy passed in the synod on Monday. The legislation is unprecedented in the Australian Anglican Church, which has only used its existing Special Tribunal for hearing charges against bishops once before, when the bishop of Canberra and Goulburn faced dismissal over an alleged sexual relationship with a parishioner.
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