Australian Bishop Greg Thompson, above, who has been diligently working to expose ‘horrendous’ child abuse in the Anglican Church, resigned yesterday because of the pressure imposed on him for standing up for abuse victims.
The Newcastle bishop, himself an abuse victim, said:
When I started this journey to right the wrongs of child abuse in the diocese I didn’t expect to be in this position, nor did I expect to uncover systemic practices that have enabled the horrendous crimes against children.
The decision to resign was not an easy one, it weighed heavily on my heart. However, I must place the well-being of my family and my health above my job.
He is the second senior member of the diocese to resign for their strong opposition to child sexual abuse in the diocese, after former diocese business manager John Cleary resigned on February 27.
Cleary was recognised by the diocese for being:
Dedicated and diligent in uncovering child sexual abuse in the diocese and providing crucial support to survivors.
Both men told a Royal Commission public hearing in Newcastle last August and September of uncovering harrowing child sexual abuse involving clergy and church representatives over decades, shocking cover-ups and appalling opposition when they tried to uncover the truth and change diocese culture.
The extent of the abuse was detailed by the BBC, which revealed that more than 1,100 complaints of child sexual abuse have been made against the Anglican Church of Australia.
The allegations, dating from 1980 to 2015, have been made against 569 church figures, including 247 ordained clergy.
The Anglican Church has admitted trying to keep victims quiet to protect its reputation.
Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier, above, said he was “deeply ashamed” of the church’s response.
I wish to express my personal sense of shame and sorrow at the way survivors’ voices were often silenced and the apparent interests of the church put first.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse is also investigating allegations against other religious and non-religious institutions.
Last month, more than 4,400 people claimed to have been abused by Australian Catholic church figures during the same 35-year period.
Findings of the investigation into the Anglican Church of Australia included:
• In total 1,115 complaints were made by 1,082 people
• The average age of the victims was 11, and 75% of them were boys
• On average it took 29 years for each incident to be reported
• Complaints were made against 569 named and 133 unnamed alleged perpetrators. Some of those unnamed may overlap
• Of 84 alleged offenders referred to police, four have been prosecuted while 23 remain under investigation
• All but one of Australia’s 23 Anglican diocese received at least one complaint.
Said Anne Hywood, General Secretary of the Church’s General Synod.
We have witnessed first hand the suffering of those who have shared their stories. We have seen in their faces and heard in their voices not only the pain of the abuse they suffered as a child, but the further damage we inflicted when they came forward as adults, seeking justice and comfort, and we pushed them aside.
Hat tip: Matthew Carr