As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse begins, we as a people of God should not only applaud its commitment, but should hold its commissioners and all involved in our prayers. We should note, for a start that, despite media implications, this is not just an investigation into the Churches, much less the Roman Catholic Church. While in my opinion Cardinal George Pell’s response to the announcement of the enquiry was little short of inept, he does have a point insofar as almost all media coverage of the Commission has included footage of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral (of which Pell was once archbishop).
Nevertheless, where there are skeletons in cupboards they need to be evicted. No institution should be quarantined from the searching eye of the Commission (including the government’s own institutional bodies), and we as an Anglican Church should not only throw open our records to scrutiny, but ready ourselves for some severe and painful discoveries. Out of the Commission’s findings, pray God, we may in future serve more faithfully the task of proclaiming and enacting justice for the most vulnerable, justice that is at the heart of our gospel and at the heart of our God. It may be—and this was the case under similar scrutiny in Canada - that we are driven to our knees. So may it be: the gospel of Jesus Christ was never about the preservation of institutions but always about proclaiming love and justice. If we have, as it seems, done in many case a deplorable job then it is precisely time we did find ourselves on our knees, and the Commission might well one day be named as a great work of God’s Spirit.
So I encourage you to pray for the Commission, and pray for ourselves that we may be open, honest, and ready to learn from what may well be dreadful mistakes of our past. Any institution that covers up abuse is a home not of the cleansing healing Spirit of God but of the darkest realms of the demonic.