Church apologises to those who need it most
THE Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane visited Kingaroy to give a sermon apologising to victims who faced sexual abuse within the church.
Archbishop Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall, in his sermon on December 9, acknowledged the hardships of these victims throughout Australia.
"Some victims have quit their jobs and struggle to provide for their families, others have become addicted to alcohol and other drugs to try to escape the pain," he said.
"Some have suffered marriage breakdowns or have been estranged from their own parents or their own children as a result. Some have taken their own lives."
Being his first visit to Kingaroy since 2010, Archbishop Aspinall used his platform to show the importance of listening to these victims.
"Listening to people tell their stories is heart breaking. The commissioners who sat on the Royal Commission into institutional responses to abuse listened to over 8,500 thousand such stories," he said.
"It's a costly thing to do, listening to those stories, and it takes its toll on those who listen... But very often that listening helps. The survivors have spoken passionately about what it has meant to them for us to take the time to listen and to believe what they say."
Archbishop Aspinall also made sure to address the need for apologies.
"Apologising on behalf of the church for not keeping the child safe can also be part of the healing process," he said.
"For many to say to someone 'I am sorry that the church did not keep you safe as it should have' can mean a lot. Especially to a person who might have deep down blamed themselves in some way for the abuse."
According to Archbishop Aspinall, these apologies must be direct and not general.
"I was struck by what one Royal Commission Report said about the kind of apology that is likely to be helpful. It said an apology well-expressed will be clear and specific about the wrong done by the institution," he said.
"It will include a clear and unequivocal recognition that the action or omission was wrong, and it will acknowledge the harm done to the victim. It's what the prophets urge us to do - name reality and face it."