New charter to protect vulnerable people

Anglican churches around the world are being asked to adopt a charter to protect the vulnerable.

The Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion was passed unanimously by the 15th Anglican Consultative Council, meeting this week in New Zealand.

It commits churches to building a "culture of safety" and implementing the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the suitability of people in positions of responsibility.

Churches also promise effective responses in cases of abuse and the provision of pastoral support to victims.

Council members passed a resolution calling upon their national Churches to adopt the charter.

Garth Blake, convener of the Safe Church Network that proposed the resolution, said: “It’s clear that civil society is looking very closely at what churches are doing to stop abuse.

“There’s been a disconnect between what churches say and what has happened.

"People have been severely harmed in our churches. Trust has been lost. The charter is designed to rebuild that trust.”

Council members will be asked to report back on the steps taken to implement the charter at national level when they meet again in a few years.

“We are enormously pleased by the unanimous approval, but even adoption of a charter will not be effective unless it’s implemented," Mr Blake continued.

“Adoption is just the first step and we shall be looking carefully to see what each province does to create safe churches.

"The charter contains principles of safety, but how those principles are implemented will need to be worked out in a contextual way in each province.”