During closing devotion tonight General Synod reflected in prayerful silence on our church’s part in failing to protect children in our care.
‘We acknowledge the harm suffered by victims of sexual abuse by pastors, other people in positions of trust, and members of the Lutheran Church of Australia and the synods that preceded it’, delegates confessed.
They repented for ‘failing to always care for and protect children and other vulnerable people’, and for ‘failing to always speak up when they had seen or suspected wrongdoing against those who have no voice’.
The time of reflection and repentance preludes Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National Apology on 22 October to people who were sexually abused as children in religious and non-religious institutions. The landmark step is an outcome of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. In its final report, delivered to the Governor-General in December last year, the Royal Commission identified the Lutheran Church of Australia among churches which needed to acknowledge past failures to provide children with adequate protection from abuse in their institutions.
The LCA Commission on Worship is preparing resources for congregations to use in worship services on Sunday 21 October.
Earlier this year the LCA signed on to the Commonwealth Government’s National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in institutional settings. The National Redress Scheme will receive complaints and determine appropriate restitution over a 10-year period.
‘The LCA is acknowledging the wrongs done to those who have experienced child sexual abuse in our church, and a commitment to support them’, Bishop Henderson said in a Heartland eNews (27 September). ‘This action is consistent with the commitment made by our General Synod in 2015 to care for and protect children while engaged in church activities.’
Bishop Henderson said that ‘in recent years, through the Professional Standards Department, the LCA has invested significant hard work in an effort to improve our protection mechanisms across the church and its associated institutions’.