The Church of Scotland, on Tuesday, accepted a motion to acknowledge and regret the terrible harm caused to all those who have suffered accusations and prosecutions under Scotland's historic witchcraft laws.
At its 2022 General Assembly, the church accepted the motion brought forward by Rev Prof Susan Hardman.


Hardman urged the church to apologise for its role and that of the General Assembly in the historical persecution of these victims who are majorly women.
The church, in a post on its Twitter, handle said, “The General Assembly has accepted a new motion brought forward by Rev Prof Susan Hardman Moore to "acknowledge and regret the terrible harm caused to all those who suffered from accusations and prosecutions under Scotland's historic witchcraft laws the majority of whom were women, and apologise for the role of the Church of Scotland and the General Assembly in such historical persecution."
“This comes following publication of the paper 'Apologising for Historic Wrongs' produced by the Theological Forum. #GA2022”
This trailed the publication of a paper titled, Apologising for Historic Wrongs by Prof Glen Pettigrove for the Theological Forum.
Pettigrove wrote, “In a case like the Scottish witch-hunts – more than 84% of whose victims were women – one might address the apology to women, whose exposure to various forms of misogyny, gender inequality, and gender-based violence provides a meaningful link between their experiences and those of so many of the accused witches of the past.


“Having dealt with a number of common misgivings, let us finally turn to the matter of why a group might wish to issue an apology for historic wrongs. Several reasons have already been mentioned: expressing respect for and solidarity with victims, affirming one’s commitment to justice and neighbourliness.
”Another reason is to set the historical record straight. Apologies for historic wrongs, ‘set the record straight by correcting official accounts and acknowledging groups … who's existence was denied or near-eradicated.
”They represent and even enact important public moral change by asserting the wrongness of past norms and policies (for example, racist immigration practices or genocidal colonialism) that were once considered acceptable or even morally appropriate, and they announce and assert the very real harms these wrongful policies caused.’
“A third reason for apologising for historic wrongs becomes salient if we return to the remarks of Jesus with which we started. For many within our community, when they think of the church they think of an organisation with a history of bad behaviour: they think of racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, hypocrisy, inquisitions, witch-hunts, crusades, religious bigotry, sectarianism, social exclusion, child abuse cover-ups, complicity with imperialism, siding with the powerful against the vulnerable, and the like.
“They think of our worst qualities at our worst moments. And given how bad we have been at those moments – and how imperfect we remain even at our best – they quite reasonably have something against us. Issuing an apology for our historic sins can be an important step toward reconciling with neighbours from whom the church’s past has alienated her.
“If accompanied by supporting actions, such an apology can help persuade our neighbours they can expect better of us in future. A further benefit of apologising for historic wrongs is that issuing such an apology invites us to scrutinise our current actions, values, institutional structures, and group dynamics to see whether – and to what extent – we might be at risk of repeating past failures."

 

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