A service dedicated to ending legalised violence against children was held at St Davids Cathedral, Wales on February 3rd. Speaking at the service, the Bishop of St Davids, Wyn Evans said violence against the weak and defenceless, particularly when sanctioned by the state, should have no place in a civilised society.
The service was led by the Dean, Jonathan Lean and Canon Dorrien Davies. It was attended by the Mayor of St Davids, members of the City Council and the Churches’ Network for Non-violence.
Bishop Wyn said the kingdom of God was about relationship and a relationship that embodied virtues of justice, compassion and mercy and respects children; and demands openness, trust and gentleness from us.
He said, “How we treat those who are weak and defenceless is a marker of a civilised society. Violence against those who can least resist it is a miasma which permeates all levels of life, both the public and the private, where children are concerned. Violence, both deliberate and directed and casual and unthinking and directed towards children especially, and by extension the disruption to the life of family and society, violence, especially when it has the sanction of the state and the law behind it, is pandemic.
Our hope is that whatever small steps we take such as this vigil, they are steps along the way to eliminating violence against children, and anyone who is weak and defenceless and on the edges of life, and making it history; leaving it behind on the threshold of the kingdom with Jesus’ words ringing in our ears: whoever does not accept the kingdom of heaven like a child will never enter it.”
Bishop Wyn is a signatory to a joint statement from Welsh Christian leaders supporting the removal of the “reasonable punishment” defence:
“Physical punishment has for too long been a common part of our culture. But physical punishment as a form of discipline is incompatible with the core religious values of respect for children’s human dignity, justice and non-violence. There are no circumstances under which this painful and humiliating practice can be justified.”