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Child protection a ‘vital’ discussion for Primates: Dr Freier

Archbishop Philip Freier is among the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church who will gather in England next week.

January 8 2016Child protection should be a key topic as leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church gather in England next week for a meeting vital to the future of the communion, according to Australia’s Anglican leader, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier.

The Church, comprising 85 million people in 165 countries, has faced serious divisions over same-sex marriage and how to interpret the Bible, with some conservatives questioning whether they should set up an independent federation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has invited the heads of the 37 provinces worldwide for a discussion at Canterbury hoping the member churches can focus on what they have in common. The leaders will meet from January 11 to 16.

Dr Freier has expressed his hope that the meeting will be one of Christian fellowship, attentiveness to all the matters listed for discussion, and prayerful reflection.

“I have been very keen to have a discussion on child protection included and will be eager to see how that discussion can develop. The painful experience of failure to protect children from abuse is one that I would like to share with the other Primates as well as some of the safeguarding remedies that have now been put in place,” he said. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child abuse now sitting in Australia has highlighted historic problems of child sexual abuse in church and state institutions.

Dr Freier said he was approaching the meeting in a spirit of openness. Although some Anglicans had fixed views about the issues creating tensions, he said it was important to see the meeting as a space where Anglicans could enjoy fellowship and discern a way ahead.

The Church has issued a collect for the Primates’ meeting:

Gracious Father, who in your prophet Isaiah promised us a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and inward strength, knowledge and true godliness: breathe that same Spirit on the leaders of your church today, that they may meet you in one another, find perfect freedom in your service, and bring forth your Spirit’s fruits of love, joy and peace; that your church may be renewed in the form of your Son, born, crucified and risen that we might be one with you and in you, ever one God, merciful and mighty. Amen.

The Primates’ meeting also has a dedicated prayer website, here.