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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Kirk 'silent' on domestic abuse
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The report will be passed to the General Assembly
The Church of Scotland has not always been a safe haven for women suffering domestic abuse, according to a report.

It calls on the Kirk's General Assembly to show regret for its record on protecting victims of domestic abuse.

The report from the Kirk's church and nation committee criticises theologians for being "virtually silent" on the issue.

It goes on to ask why the church has "in many instances condoned sexual harassment and even violence within its own institutional life".

Material support

The General Assembly, which meets next month, is being called upon to recognise that the Kirk can do better when it comes to dealing with the problem.

The committee wants pastoral response guidelines to go to all ministers and deacons.

It also wants families who are abused by ministers or church employees to be given financial and material support.

The report highlights the case of a "professional man and church elder" who abused and harassed his wife and children for more than 20 years and a minister who "habitually subjected his wife to degrading sexual demands".

It states: "Christians of goodwill, evangelical and liberal, Roman Catholic and Orthodox are increasingly recognising that violence against women in all its forms including domestic abuse is a sin and offence against God."

The assembly will also be asked to commend the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive's policies on domestic abuse and politicians' support for the Scottish Partnership for Domestic Abuse.

And the committee will recommend an overhaul of the Kirk's approach to domestic violence, including addressing the issue at universities and the department of ministry.

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