It’s not possible to change the past nor to regain time lost to trauma and isolation, but it is possible to put a balm on the wounds and move towards healing. The Anglican Church Southern Queensland has taken the first step in addressing the harm it has caused to members of the LGBTIQA+ community by acknowledging its culpability. It is now in the process of taking the second, more significant step: issuing an unrestrained apology.
At the Diocese’s Synod held in Brisbane in June 2022, the following motion was put forward by the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt:
That this Synod, noting Resolution R82/18 of the General Synod of Australia, in which the General Synod apologised to members of the LGBTIQ+ community for ‘disrespectful, hurtful, intentionally insensitive, bullying or abusive behaviour’ and committed the church to working towards creating safe churches for members of the LGBTIQ+ community:
l. affirms the statement made at this year’s General Synod in Resolution R82/l B that we ‘recognise and rejoice in the image of God as reflected in every human being, regardless of race, social circumstances, creed or sexual identity’,
2. acknowledges that the Church’s attitudes and behaviours have created and are creating trauma and affirms efforts to support those so affected,
3. requests Diocesan Council to work in consultation with members of the LGBTIQ+ community towards crafting an apology to members of the LGBTIQ+ community on behalf of this diocese, and bringing a report and the apology for endorsement by Synod,
4. requests Diocesan Council, parishes, schools and agencies to work with LGBTIQ+ Anglicans to explore ways to build safer, inclusive and affirming communities.
The motion was carried and the process has now begun. An invitation has been extended to all members of the LGBTIQ+ community, their families and friends who are or have previously been, connected with the Anglican Church Southern Queensland (ACSQ) to share their stories.
To facilitate the consultation process, a committee has been formed with Dr Catt as its chair. Anyone in the community who feels they were mistreated or had an adverse experience at a school, church or other institution in one of 130 plus parishes of the ACSQ diocese is welcome to either meet with a committee member or submit their comments in writing.
“The listening process is important for the Church because it will enable us to understand the nature and depth of injuries caused,” said Dr Catt. “The committee hopes to hear directly from people affected by the Anglican Church Southern Queensland’s past and current attitudes and practices.”
Dr Catt noted that part of this conciliation process involves the realisation that the Church needs to look inward.
“I think people have been moved most by the fact that there is an increasing awareness in the Church as whole that there are sexually and gender diverse people in the Church,” he said.
“In the past, debates were often predicated, at least in part, on the idea that we were talking about people outside the Church.”