In just over three weeks—Monday 22 October—Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, will rise in the National Parliament in Canberra to deliver a National Apology to people who were sexually abused as children in religious and non-religious institutions.
This landmark apology is a major outcome of the 5-year-long Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. The Commission delivered its final report to the Governor General in December 2017.
The Commission identified the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) among the churches which need to acknowledge their past failures to provide children with adequate protection from sexual abuse in their institutions. 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.
Earlier this year, through the General Church Council, the LCA signed on to the Commonwealth Government’s National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in institutional settings. At that time I wrote in an eNews, ‘the LCA is acknowledging the wrongs done to those who have experienced child sexual abuse in our church, and a commitment to support them. 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.’ The scheme will receive complaints and determine appropriate restitution over a ten year period.
To help us acknowledge the National Apology as a community of Christian believers, the LCA Commission on Worship is preparing resources for congregations to use in worship services on Sunday 21 October. These will soon become available. I encourage pastors and congregations to plan thoughtfully to include these resources into your scheduled divine service that Sunday, the day before the delivery of the official apology in Canberra.
Our chaplains will also be incorporating a short reflection on the National Apology and the reasons for it at the General Convention in Sydney next week.
I plan to send you a second message in mid-October, with further reflections and prayer points regarding the National Apology in week leading up to its delivery by the Prime Minister in Canberra.
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia
27th September 2018