Responsibility and Accountability

It was recently revealed that the Govonor-General of Australia was the Archbishop of Brisbane when it came to light that a Boarding Master in an Anglican school had inappropriate relations with a 12 year old girl. This has caused me to consider the responsibilities and accountabilities of those who are in positions of authority in such cases.

Clearly there are legal considerations. The law has clear demands on institutions and their members. They include reporting and confidentiality. I am speaking here of Australian law where it is mandatory to report any suspected offence to the appropriate authority.

Beyond the legal requirements there is a moral responsibility to the victim and their family. I will talk more of this later.

There is also a responsibility to the organisation over which the authority resides.

There is also the responsibility to the accused. It is not unheard of that people accused of such actions are proven to be innocent only after their reputation, career and family life are in tatters. The stigma may also follow them for the rest of their life. This leads naturally to the question as to whether this could have been avoided if it was handled better.

I think that perhaps the biggest danger here is to attempt to stereotype the "sexual abuse" situation. It is very easy to draw on easy answers as in the above case where people have called for the Govoner-General's resignation without properly understanding the issues involved. We must understand that we are all ignorant and accept that our knowledge must be fallible. Most of all those who are involved with, or represent any of the parties involved. For instance, because of their clear bias, the credibility of the calls for the resignation of the Govener-general from the children s rights advocates has to be seriously questioned.

Before I continue I am compelled to single out what I consider to be the most destructive segment of society. This is the commercial "current affairs" segment. The "current affairs" title is however a misnomer in that they do not seem to be the slightest bit interested in current affairs. Their sole purpose seems to be entertainment. The truth is not of secondary importance - it is of no importance. The worst of this type is the campaigner who has a cause to promote and the worst of this type are those who believe their own publicity. They set themselves up to be the guardians of societies morality but they have no regard for the truth or the consequences of their actions. They are worse that the Pharisees - at least they weremorallyy "good" in that they strictly adhered to thMosaicic law even if they did abandon the spirit of the law, but thMosaicic law is the last thing on the minds of the producers of current affairs programmes. They are possibly responsible for the irresponsible destruction of more fine reputations than any other segment of society. They appeal to the basest aspects of human nature. (End of rant.)

I suppose what prompted this train of thought was the statement from the Govener-General that "I am sorry that legal and insurance considerations to some extent inhibited our taking a more active role..." Now let us put this statement into context. Here is what was at the time God's representative to the Anglican community in Queensland saying that his concern and compassion for the parties involved was restrained by "legal and insurance considerations". Does any body else see the ever so slight problem here? Could you imagine Jesus response when faced with the woman caught in adultery? "Obviously I would like to do more but If I become too involved in this case the legal consequences would alone be sufficient to keep an arms length at all times. However our liability insurance precludes me from making any public statement concerning the guilt or otherwise of any party in this dispute."

Have we become so obsessed with our organisational integrity that we have lost sight of our moral integrity?

I think that the answer lies in our motivation. What is it that drives us? If our drivers are the integrity of our organisation then we necessarily lost sight of the reason for the existance of the organisation. Unless I am very much mistaken the purpose of the Anglican church is to serve God's people as Christ's representatives on earth. One of the aspects of Jesus' personality that is clear from the gospels is that his primary motivation was to serve people. If he saw a need he fulfilled that need. If he saw pain he eased that pain. If he saw injustice he righted that injustice. He gave people dignity respect and taught others to do the same. Many people say that society has changed and that this is a simplistic way of responding to the complexities of modern society. My response to this is that this displays an ignorance of both Jesus and his mission, and the complexities of the society in which Jesus lived. Jesus never chose the easy option - he chose the right option. Why? Because his motivation was his compassion for people not the integrity of the Messianic movement.

We need to learn our motivation from Him Whom we profess to serve. As soon as we lose sight of people and their needs then we fail to serve our God, organisation or the people that we claim to represent. I believe that any person in a position of responsibility that moderates their response to the people involved for legal or insurance reasons is in danger of being comp licit and thereby bringing on themselves the guilt of the perpetrator of then offence. It brings to mind Jesus' words "If any one causes one of these little ones to stumble it is better that a mill stone be hung around their neck and they be thrown into the deepest sea."

"There is nothing that I can do" is a lame excuse. Finally two quotes.

"It is only sufficient that good men do nothing for evil to prevail."
John F Kennedy

"Send no to see for Whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
John Donne