Towards a Safer Church: Liturgical Resources

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells his followers, ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill top cannot be hidden’ (Matthew 5. 14)

Christians are called to be a transformative presence in society bringing light and hope to others. That includes being a beacon of good practice in the care and protection of children and vulnerable adults. As Jesus says uncompromisingly, ‘If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matthew 18.6).

The Church needs to be at the vanguard of fostering a change of culture across society. Safeguarding is at the forefront of public consciousness and the Church needs to embody best practice in safeguarding in our network of parishes, schools and chaplaincies as part of our commitment to excellence in pastoral care. In recent years we have become acutely aware of the way in which historic incidents of abuse were sometimes hidden or even tolerated. There must be zero tolerance to such behaviour. As an organisation, it is vital that we keep people safe, repent and apologise for the wrongs of the past, and learn from our mistakes, including when we have added insult to injury by not responding well when people have disclosed abuse. We need to support survivors better and enable them to flourish.

This suite of liturgical resources is designed to suit a variety of pastoral circumstances. They range from a safeguarding prayer that could be posted on a church noticeboard or be used to conclude a day of safeguarding training, to a litany of penitence for past failures. The prayers focus on wisdom, compassion, vigilance and pastoral care. A broad range of texts have been garnered from existing authorized liturgical material, supplemented by new material, including prayers written or suggested by survivors. Many of these resources are already being used widely across our churches, but we thought it would be helpful to gather them into one place for ease of access. Collectively they are neither the first word nor the last word on this subject, but they are offered in the hope that by God’s grace the Church may become a safer place where everyone is valued.

+ Robert Exon
Chair of the Liturgical Commission