[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The deans of Australia’s cathedrals have expressed grief at hurt and trauma caused by clergy and church workers after hearing reports about the country’s Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the newly established Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory.
The deans had gathered at St James’ Cathedral in Townsville, North Queensland, for their annual conference. In a statement, issued at the end of their gathering, the deans strongly condemned any form of abuse. The statement said that the deans – the senior clergy person in charge of a cathedral – had “reported on safeguarding measures in their own cathedrals, affirmed the importance of public acknowledgement and repentance for past wrongs, and the need for transparency and openness of conversation to enable a process of healing and the prevention of future abuse.
“Our national Church needs to do more and move quickly on issues of redress for victims, recognising that we are one Body of Christ and therefore together are responsible,” the Dean of Darwin, the Very Revd Keith Joseph, said. “We give thanks for the work of the national Royal Commission and commend the newly appointed Royal Commission looking into issues in the Northern Territory.”
During the meeting, the deans discussed a range of issues, including church in cathedral congregations. “It was a joy to hear how many of our cathedrals are experiencing growth in their ministry of equipping people to hear and follow the call of Christ,” the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, said.
“In our discussions we reflected on what it means to belong together as a family of believers, and how we can help bring together local congregations and visitors. One of the privileges of being a cathedral is to be a home church both for our diocesan family, and to offer a . . . welcome that enables visitors to share in the ministry of daily prayer.”
The conference also reflected on the capacity of cathedrals to lead social change; and on the cost of doing so.
“Anglican cathedrals were leaders in the Sanctuary and ‘Let Them Stay’ campaigns, which prevented the deportation of almost 300 asylum seekers,” the Dean of Brisbane, the Very Revd Dr Peter Catt, the senior dean in Australia, said. “As a result of this important advocacy, people from many backgrounds found a common ground with the Christian message of welcome, which led to a positive change in public opinion.”