The Anglican Church plans to “strengthen procedures” when dealing with cases of sexual abuse in the church.
On Wednesday, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, announced that he has begun urgent consultations to strengthen procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse in the church which may see the psychologist, a lawyer and a priest forming a team to handle complaints of sexual abuse.
The move comes after several open letters, articles and several private complaints directly to the archbishop’s office detailed experiences of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.
Last week, the Mail & Guardian detailed how an Anglican parishioner has accused the church of “silencing” the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest.
According to Makgoba, church laws state that a church tribunal can charge a minister of the church, who is accused of sexual assault or harassment, however, the church has also made provision for complainants to lay charges with the police.
If a minister was to appeal the tribunal, he would have to appeal to the archbishop.
Despite these measures, Makgoba said: “It is clear from the experiences reported in the last few weeks that we are lagging behind in our care for victims of abuse.”
“I have asked that these teams be appointed to intervene when there are allegations of abuse in parishes or church schools,” said Makgoba.
“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.”
“Every human being deserves to have the dignity bestowed on them by God respected. Anyone who demeans this through any form of abuse demeans themselves and God.”