Priests talk about being sexually abused
RETIRED Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran's attempts to change a culture that denied the sexual abuse of children were undermined from within the church, Bishop Greg Thompson said on Saturday before an historic Synod apology for the diocese's "shameful" past.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has tens of thousands of diocese documents as it prepares for a public hearing in 2016 into the Hunter Anglican Church, including documents on reform attempts during Bishop Farran's term from 2005 to 2012.
"I am aware of the undermining they faced," said Bishop Thompson of action taken by Bishop Farran and other senior diocese members that led to controversial professional standards board hearings, and the defrocking of some priests.
On Saturday, diocese clergy and senior parishioners passed an historic apology for sexual abuse, moved by Woy Woy priest Michael Davies, without dissent, although the Newcastle Herald has confirmed a number of senior parishioners who objected to the apology did not attend Synod.
"We apologise for the shameful way we actively worked against and discouraged those who came to us and reported abuse," the apology said.
"We are ashamed to acknowledge that we only took notice when the survivors of abuse became a threat to us."
In a powerful speech, Bishop Thompson noted the recent jailing of senior and highly respected United Kingdom bishop Peter Ball for offences against at least 20 young men, and church acknowledgement that a bishop known as an Anglican saint, George Bell, was a paedophile.
The royal commission is expected to explore how up to 30 Anglican Church child sex offenders were able to operate in the Hunter for decades without a diocese response.
Bishop Thompson said he wanted Hunter Anglicans to be more acutely aware of the needs of people in our communities, and also spoke about other issues including climate change.