Sex abuse in church inadequately dealt with: Archbishop Makgoba



Archbishop Thabo Makgoba used his Easter sermon to address the controversial issue of alleged abuses in the Anglican church.

He said that while structures enabling the church to deal with abuse exist, they are not sufficient.

"Do people know enough about what the Canons provide?" asked the archbishop. 

"What do we do in cases where the alleged perpetrators have retired and no longer hold licences? What do we do if they have died? What do we do if those abused have left the Church and perhaps converted to another faith? Are the measures in place in church schools adequate and widely enough known?

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"In the past, we have sometimes referred those alleging abuse to the police, in the belief that they have more expertise in investigating cases than we have. But in at least one case, we have learned that the police cannot investigate on the grounds that the case is too old.

"Most importantly, what about the survivors of abuse? Whether or not charges are brought in church or state courts, what is far more important to us as pastors is to address the needs of those who have been abused, to restore their dignity and to bring about holistic and sustainable healing. We don't have to wait for reports from the Dioceses or for answers to the questions I have just asked to take effective action."

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Makgoba said he had asked bishops across the province "to appoint multi-disciplinary teams at Diocesan, Archdeaconry and Parish level to help and give guidance to people alleging abuse in parishes, church schools or other institutions. They should include a psychologist, social worker or counsellor; someone who is qualified to give legal advice; a community worker from outside the church; and the head of the affected entity within the church."

He also said he would consult widely in order to offer a more comprehensive and detailed response.

"This week I had a very productive meeting with the church's legal advisers," Makgoba said.

" Arising from that, our Canon Law Council will meet representatives of the Safe Church network this month to formulate clearer policy so that we have in place and can publicise a system that is both effective and is seen to be effective for both survivors and alleged perpetrators. One of the matters I have raised is to offer formal church support for efforts to change the law to ensure that old cases can be dealt with in secular courts."




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