Australian church apologizes

Published May 1, 2002


Leaders of Australia’s Anglican Church have made a formal apology to victims of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Anglican clergy, officers and institutions.

The move is seen as a response to continuing controversy involving Australia’s Governor General, archbishop Peter Hollingworth.

In recent weeks, Archbishop Hollingworth has faced calls for his resignation as Governor General for his handling of child sexual abuse cases when he was archbishop of Brisbane.

In March, the standing committee of the church’s general synod issued a statement expressing deep regret to victims of sexual abuse for the hurt that had been caused and the breakdown in pastoral relationships.

The statement admitted that “in some places (the church) has failed in the past adequately to respond to claims of abuse” and said that steps were now in place to set up procedures to make sure future problems were dealt with “openly and transparently.”

The primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Peter Carnley, released the statement.

The statement does not mention Archbishop Hollingworth by name, but church sources acknowledged that the continuing controversy over his handling of sexual abuse allegations sparked the debate over the church’s methods of dealing with the issue.

Archbishop Hollingworth was appointed Governor General last year by Prime Minister John Howard, prompting a debate about church-state relations.

In the past few weeks, Archbishop Hollingworth has come under fire for comments implying that a 14-year-old girl initiated a sexual relationship with a 27-year-old priest. He later issued an “unreserved apology” for the comments.


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