Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Mistakes were made, bishop concedes, in promoting pedophile priest

The former Bishop of Tasmania conceded that he had made a “very serious oversight” in allowing a priest accused of sexually abusing boys to be made life vice-president of the Church of England Boys’ Society

The former Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt. Rev. Phillip Newell conceded that he had made a “very serious oversight” in allowing a priest accused of sexually abusing boys in Church of England Boys’ Society to be allowed to be made the society’s life vice-president. In testimony on 1 Feb 2016 before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Bishop Newell said he had “no excuse to offer for a blunder”. In 1987 Bishop Newell admonished the Rev. Louis Daniels after several boys lodged complaints with the bishop saying Daniels had molested them. In February 1988, Newell presided over a meeting of the Society which elected Daniels its life vice-president and in 1989 went on to promote Daniels to the post of Archdeacon. Counsel for the commission asked Bishop Newell whether he had given any thought to the effect the promotion of Daniels — who was later jailed after having been convicted of abuse 11 boys — would have. The bishop responded:  “Judging by what is here, I couldn’t have given any proper consideration to the consequences of that … I would regard it, as I look at it here, as a very serious oversight, which I deeply regret.” The commission learned that when one of Daniels’ victims threatened to sue the church in 1994, Bishop Newell wrote to Daniels that if this happened, Daniels would have to resign from the priesthood. The commission’s attorney asked Bishop Newell: “So is the position this: that provided these allegations of sexual abuse against a child did not become public, Mr Daniels was to continue in his position?” Bishop Newell answered he had acted on the advice of the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Keith Rayner of Melbourne and admitted that his concern was not for the victims of abuse but for the reputation of the church. “I very much regret that — and that is partly why I’ve sought to express an apology.” The hearings continue through this week and the former Archbishop of Adelaide Ian George is expected to testify as is the current Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, who served in the Diocese of Tasmania at the time the abuse occurred.


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