THE Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Philip Freier has expressed solidarity with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers before a Royal Commission public hearing in Newcastle on August 2.
Archbishop Freier said evidence of clergy sexual abuse and predatory behaviour in Newcastle that included a former bishop was “shocking and distressing”.
“We express our solidarity with and prayers for Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers who have worked diligently to end the culture of abuse and silence within the diocese,” the archbishop said.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will sit for two weeks in Newcastle.
It will consider how the diocese responded to allegations of child sexual abuse made against clergy and lay people including former Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence, teacher Gregory Goyette, priests Andrew Duncan, Bruce Hoare, Graeme Sturt, Peter Rushton and Ian Barrack, and church worker James Michael Brown.
It will also inquire into St John’s Theological College at Morpeth, one of the Anglican Church’s most significant Australian priest training institutions, but also the subject of a warning to the church in 2009 about an apparent “significant over-representation” of child sex offenders from its ranks.
Archbishop Freier said he welcomed the “very complete examination of these matters” which would be brought out in the open.