The specter of sexual abuse by clergy and church workers has emerged as a concern for Anglican churches in New Zealand and Southern Africa.

In New Zealand the church has asked the government to expand its Royal Commission inquiry into abuse to include the church and its agencies. Archbishops Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua have written to the government on instructions from the national standing committee, which met in March.

Their letter says the church’s primary concern “is for the needs of those whose lives have been impacted by abuse, and we are conscious that abuse has been perpetrated by agencies across our society, including the Church and its agencies.”

It would be unhelpful to victims and survivors, the letter said, if the government’s investigations are limited only to the state sector.

“We believe that victims, survivors, and the public at large would have greater confidence in the processes and outcomes of the Royal Commission’s Inquiry if it was fully inclusive,” the archbishops wrote. “Our Christian faith teaches us the power of truth, justice and reconciliation. We see this Commission of Inquiry as one way we can put that faith into action, and we encourage you to give this request serious consideration, in the hope that this will provide a pathway to healing and wholeness for all concerned.”

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Cape Town has released a letter saying that in recent weeks he has heard from four individuals reporting experiences of sexual abuse in two dioceses in the 1970s and 1980s.

It was clear from these reports “that we are lagging behind in our care for victims of abuse,” he said, adding: “I am also urgently consulting more widely on how the Church can not only act more effectively, but be seen to act effectively in cases of sexual abuse. Key to my efforts is to achieve holistic and sustainable healing.”

John Martin

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