Anglican Church - honour your promise on redress for child sexual abuse
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On 30th May the Guardian reported that the Anglican Church of Australia had joined the National Redress Scheme for child abuse. Unfortunately, subsequent events make it clear that that this was not quite the truth. Joining the National Redress Scheme implies accepting collective responsibility. Instead the Church has decided that redress is the responsibility of individual dioceses in which abuse occurred.
This is nonsensical. For example, the major abuses that occurred in the city of Newcastle somehow become the problem of the country town of Taree, 170km north, but not of the wealthy city of Sydney 160 km to the south. To try to cope with the need for compensation historic places of worship are bring sacrificed in fire sales. As Elizabeth Farrelly put it in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23rd June: "Two wrongs don't make a redemption - Selling churches to fund child abuse schemes rubs salt into wounds." In our parish, St Albans, it is proposed to sell off a 100-year-old church, still in use (above), when the price likely to be raised would not meet a single payout under the National Redress scheme.
The culture of abuse was endemic in the Church, and to try to deny collective responsibility this way not only unfairly targets some worshippers over others, it also means that in the real world the Church will not be able to raise enough funds to compensate all victims. Taking collective responsibility means that all worshippers are treated equally, and all victims will be compensated.
Bishop Philip Freier, Anglican Primate of Australia, email@example.com, we call on you to ask the Anglican Church in Australia, which you head, to take seriously its responsibility for victims of child sexual abuse.
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