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Compassion and justice after abuse apology

  • 21 October 2018


Tomorrow in our national parliament, the Prime Minister will offer an apology to the victims of child sexual abuse. Many survivors will be here in Canberra. Some will be here at taxpayer expense having been successful in a ballot to attend. Others will come under their own steam hoping to get into the parliamentary gallery or the great hall. We know that many of these victims were the subject of abuse in our own church.

The royal commission is over, but there is still a long way for us to travel so that we might stand together in solidarity committed to justice, truth and healing for all, for the living and for the dead. We are unlikely as a Church or as a society to get this right for quite some years to come.

Unlike the apology to the stolen generations or the apology for forced adoptions, this apology will be delivered in the hope that those from institutions which have done wrong stay away or at least not be publicly identifiable. The government website states:

'The national apology is a day for survivors, families and supporters. Community consultations have made it clear that representatives from institutions in official attire risk traumatising survivors. Accordingly, institutions will not be represented at the national apology in Canberra.

'Members of institutions who wish to attend apology events in their personal capacity as a survivor, or as a support person to a survivor, are respectfully asked to not wear a uniform or any clothing that identifies their institution.'

So let's continue to feel shame as members of the Church and let's recommit to justice, truth and healing. As we look at our church structures and the past cover ups or downplaying of abuse that occurred, let's take to heart Jesus' words in today's gospel (Mark chapter 10 verses 35-45):

'You know that those who are recognised as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.'


"The church cannot undo all of the harm done in the past, but it has the responsibility to do all that is within its power to create an environment in which people will treat other people with respect, dignity and justice." — Maree Marsh