A Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion was approved unanimously by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), meeting last week in New Zealand.
The Charter commits churches to building a "culture of safety" and implementing the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the suitability of people in positions of responsibility.
Churches also promise effective responses in cases of abuse and the provision of pastoral support to victims.
Council members passed a resolution calling upon their national Churches to adopt the charter.
Australian Garth Blake, convener of the Safe Church Network that proposed the resolution, said: “It’s clear that civil society is looking very closely at what churches are doing to stop abuse."
He continued: “There’s been a disconnect between what churches say and what has happened. People have been severely harmed in our churches. Trust has been lost. The charter is designed to rebuild that trust.”
Council members will be asked to report back on the steps taken to implement the charter at national level when they meet again in a few years.
“We are enormously pleased by the unanimous approval, but even adoption of a charter will not be effective unless it’s implemented,” Mr Blake continued.
“Adoption is just the first step and we shall be looking carefully to see what each province does to create safe churches,” he said.
"The charter contains principles of safety, but how those principles are implemented will need to be worked out in a contextual way in each province,” concluded Mr Blake.
More than 80 members of the Anglican Communion gathered in Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral for the 15th Anglican Consultative Council.
The issue of violence, particularly against women and children, has been on the agenda of the Anglican Communion since 1998 Lambeth Conference.
* The full charter can be read here: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/10/30/ACNS5222