[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has confessed that it has been “complicit” in gender-based violence and urged all its dioceses to put programs in place to combat the scourge.
Proposing a resolution at the annual meeting of the church’s Provincial Standing Committee (PSC), Bishop Margaret Vertue of the False Bay diocese said the acronym RSA should stand for “Republic of Sexual Abuse”.
“The church is seen as being complicit in GBV,” she added. ”The trauma, the pain and the brokenness run very deep.”
The Provincial Standing Committee is the church’s top decision-making body in Southern Africa between its three-yearly synods.
In another resolution, the committee praised the leadership of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba in strengthening church procedures to eradicate abuse in churches and church institutions.
It gave the archbishop “unequivocal support” and expressed its gratitude to him “for absorbing the public criticism leveled against the Anglican Church with gentleness and grace, and his pastoral heart in seeking justice, healing and restoration for all.”
In a communique also issued today, the church’s Synod of Bishops – which met earlier this week – said there was “a great need for perpetrators and the Church as a whole to repent for its complicity and silence in the face of gender-based violence.”
The bishops added: “Male priests have often in the past tended to take sides with perpetrators, so determined are they to save marriages. As a result, victims are forced to declare forgiveness for perpetrators against their will or when they are not yet ready to do so.
The Church needs eyes to see the problem, ears to hear the victims and big hearts to respond with courage and compassion,” the communique said.
The full texts of the relevant PSC resolutions follow:
Motion on Gender Based Violence
Noting with urgency that women are being murdered daily and that Gender based violence is increasing in society at alarming levels. GBV is a cause of consequence of gender inequality and injustice.
Noting that Gender Based Violence is primarily violence perpetrated by men on women. These men are quite often a loved one, trusted leader or close relative.
Noting that in the context of this global pandemic, occurrences of GBV have increased making GBV a shadow pandemic.
Noting the presence of a Gender programme in ACSA with a comprehensive strategy, however without substantial resources to ensure effective implementation of the programme, which includes dealing with the scourge of GBV, Gender sensitisation and addressing the issues of masculinity.
Acknowledging the role of the church in being complicit in allowing GBV to go unchallenged and that GBV flourishes in an environment of silence, shame and stigma, of unbelief and avoiding so called difficult conversations and justice.
Acknowledging that patriarchy is evil, a sin and a heresy, especially when interpreting scriptures to reinforce concepts of male dominance and headship. It is evidenced in our teachings on the sanctity of marriage, family values and the subservience of women. It is also evidenced in our liturgy and language that excludes women.
Acknowledging that as a province we have passed many resolutions on GBV, inclusive language, diversity and representation. It is time now to act.
Acknowledging the presence and work of the Safe Church Commission.
This PSC hereby resolves:
- That all dioceses revisit the communication from SOB Feb 2020 that declared a state of emergency on GBV and immediately put in place a programme to deal with the scourge of GBV.
- That each diocese has a dedicated gender officer or task team that liaises with HOPE Africa as well as all provincial organisations involved in training and programmes on GBV, so that these programmes get to diocesan and parish level.
- The Provincial Liturgical Committee to create a Season that focus on GBV, with Readings, Prayers, Liturgical materials, Sermon outlines and materials for Small Group Bible Studies.
That we ensure that all our liturgies are transformed to be gender inclusive and all dioceses request that each Parish uses these gender inclusive liturgies.
THAT THIS PSC:
Acknowledges the leadership given by Archbishop Thabo in strengthening the efficacy of Church procedures to ensure that all forms of abuse in our churches, schools and institutions are addressed and eradicated;
Appreciates his humility in seeking advice and his gentleness in dealing with our human failures and frailty as well as his own;
Expresses its unequivocal support for the Archbishop in the exercise of his leadership role in Church and Society;
Assures the Archbishop and his family of our love, prayers and gratitude for absorbing the public criticism levelled against the Anglican Church with gentleness and grace, and his pastoral heart in seeking justice, healing and restoration for all.
The Synod of Bishops’ communique can be found here: