Bishop Stephen Hale moving, The Ven Kara Hartley seconding
The General Synod affirms that:
All human beings, male and female, are created in the image of God, and are precious to him. So their value and dignity should be upheld by all, and rightly commands respect and protection.
In following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, Christian relationships, families, and households are to be characterised by mutual love, respect, compassion and a commitment to the wellbeing of one another. No one should feel unsafe in their own home.
The Bible condemns the misuse of power to control or exploit others, and rejects all abuse, whether physical, verbal, or otherwise expressed from one person towards others. Therefore domestic violence is sin, and Scripture should never be twisted to justify or excuse any abuse.
No victim of domestic abuse should ever be pressured to forgive, submit to, or restore a relationship with an offender.
Our churches are committed to being safe places for all people, especially children and vulnerable adults, and we will therefore work to protect those experiencing domestic abuse as a first priority.
We grieve with victims and survivors of domestic abuse, and pray for their healing and recovery. We give thanks for those women and men, clergy and lay people, who have faithfully supported, cared for and protected such victims in our churches and communities.
However, we also confess with deep shame that domestic abuse has occurred among those who attend our churches, and even among some in leadership. We apologise for those times our teaching and pastoral care has failed adequately to support victims and call perpetrators to account.
We urge Anglican dioceses around Australia to ensure they have policies and good practice guidelines in place, along with education and training, for responding well to situations involving domestic violence within our parishes and organisations.
We call on all institutions preparing people for ordained or lay ministry in the Anglican Church of Australia to review curriculum and content to ensure that material which may give rise to unhealthy views about power or the marginalisation of women, are addressed.
We also acknowledge our responsibility to work with the police, statutory child protection authorities and specialist agencies in responding to domestic abuse, including our legal obligations in reporting abuse. This should include consideration of growing the practical trauma programmes and advocacy undertaken by our Anglicare Australia agencies in this growing area of community need.
Finally, this Synod again upholds Faithfulness in Service as our national code of conduct for clergy and church workers, specifically its affirmations that:
Abuse of power is at the heart of many relationship problems in the Church and the community. In essence, abuse is one person’s misuse of power over another. Sometimes abuse will be a one off event and at other times it will be a pattern of behaviour. (§6.2)
It is important for clergy and church workers to be good citizens and obey the laws of the community, except where those laws conflict with Christian convictions. (§6.4)
You are not to abuse your spouse, children or other members of your family. (§6.6)
7 September 2017