Written by Anthony Douglas on 17 December 2017.

This week, the royal commission handed down its report on the abuse of children, five years after its work began. It makes for harrowing reading, made more dreadful by the realisation that this is the sanitised version: the full report comprises more than twice the number of volumes due to the inclusion of information that would breach the privacy of victims.

The crimes themselves are unspeakable, but the focus of the commission’s work was not them so much as how institutions responded to them. And, far, far too often, the response was also unspeakable, literally. Wilful and criminal behaviour was swept under the carpet, never to be spoken of - and such a failure to protect the vulnerable amounts to a repetition of the original abuse.

In light of this, we must speak. Our society needs to be fully aware of the ways in which we have destroyed lives by our inaction. In particular, we as God’s church must speak, for he calls us to have a special concern for those in need.

LightOne thing we must speak of is this: that institutions are made of men and women. The shocking lack of response that has been uncovered was not just perpetrated by faceless institutions. It comes down to individuals, not just structures. JFK popularised the idea that for evil to triumph, all that is necessary is for good people to do nothing. He was wrong: no one is good, except God alone.

That’s the truth that we can offer the world - that we must be vigilant in the future, because none of us can be trusted to do what is right every time. The light must shine in the darkness... (John 1:5)

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