The Baptist Church in Australia has issued a formal apology to domestic violence victims for churches' failure to care for their members who experienced abuse. At the same time, it also called on leaders to recognize the issue as a serious problem which spans across several denominations.
The apology came as women all over the world have stepped forward via social media and used the hashtag #ChurchToo to share their own experiences of being sexually harassed and abused. Over the last four months, a number of denominations in Australia have apologized to domestic violence victims with the Baptist Church being the fourth to do so, ABC relayed.
"We failed to recognise the existence of violence and abuse in our homes, and when we did recognise it, all too often we didn't do what was necessary to protect those who were being abused," the Australian Baptist Ministries National Council said on Nov. 26 in its statement.
It added: "To those people we failed, we are sorry. Sorry for letting you down when you sought our help; sorry for ignoring your pain and suffering; sorry for failing to make your safety and wellbeing our priority."
Aside from the Baptist Church, the other churches that have already apologized to domestic violence victims are the General Anglican Synod of Australia, the Sydney Anglican Synod, and the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Adelaide who has been diagnosed with early-state Alzheimer's disease was unable to appear for his trial on Nov. 28 because of health concerns and worries over his "cognitive capacities." Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson, who had been charged with covering up sex abuse within the Church, was supposed to face the Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday, The Advertiser reported.
Archbishop Wilson is currently on personal leave as he tries to defend himself against the accusation, which could entail a maximum of two years' imprisonment if proven guilty. He has also denied the charge of concealing a serious indictable offense and reportedly has no intention of stepping down.