Clergy child abuse under the spotlight in Australia

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Bishop began hearings this week in Newcastle

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Bishop began hearings this week in Newcastle, Australia. Eight serving and retired Anglican bishops have been called to testify before the committee which opened its proceedings on 2 Aug 2016. The scope and purpose of the proceedings, a commission press release said, would be to inquire into the dioceses current and former child protections programmes; interview survivors of child abuse perpetrated by clergy and church workers associated with the diocese; review “links between any institutional culture at St John’s College, Morpeth and the perpetration of child sexual abuse.” Founded in 1898 along Anglo-Catholic principals, St John’s Theological College was the diocesan seminary until its closure in 2006 and amalgamation with the University of Newcastle. A number of clergy under investigation by the Commission are accused of being members of a paedophile ring linked by their training at Morpeth. The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt. Rev. Greg Thompson, (pictured) who as a young man was the victim of clergy sexual abuse, is scheduled to testify before the commission — as a victim and as overseer of the current protocols governing abuse reporting. In 2015 Bishop Thompson acknowledged the existence of a historic paedophile ring amongst the clergy of his diocese, and noted that his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Brian Farran’s attempt to resolve the problems were frustrated from “within”. Five former bishops of Newcastle are scheduled to testify, including the current Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev. Roger Herft, who has been accused by victims of failing to act on abuse allegations. The former Bishop of Riverina the Rt. Rev. Bruce Clark has also been called to testify as has the former Metropolitan of New South Wales, the Most Rev. Harry Goodhew, Archbishop of Sydney. The Anglican Church is not the only Newcastle institution under review. The Commission on 29 Aug 2016 will hold a public hearing to inquire into the response of Roman Catholic Church authorities in the Maitland-Newcastle region to allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and religious.


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