Call for Resignation and Voluntary hand back of Order of Australia Award and “Holy Orders ” of the Anglican Church: Archbishop of Perth R Herft.

[Sunday 140517 This post is being re-edited and expanded to become an On-Line Petition Final Draft  Sunday 21 May ]

[ Edit and Publication 01:17HRS. 080517 also 130517 ]

OPINION

Reposted and re-edited from two personal Opinion Pieces on “Survivors and Friends” FB News Feed Group.

Martin Luther King

“I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice…’No lie can live forever.’”

 

Bishop Peter Stuart “Diocese of Newcastle Presidential Address Synod 2016.

” Facing the Past Building a Healthy Future.”

At the ordination of a bishop, other bishops gather
around the bishop-designate and lay hands. There are
no priests, deacons or lay people engaged in this action.
The new bishop has a sense that as the Holy Spirit is
invoked they are joined with those who have gone
before them, as others will join with them in the future.
As a bearer of the episcopate to you ,

I apologise to you the clergy and people of the Diocese for the failure by
bishops to exercise ministry in the way you rightly
expected of them.

http://newcastleanglican.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Presidential-Address.pdf

Joanne McCarthy. Winner of the Gold Walkley for Services to Journalism in her article 06 April 2017.

Newcastle Herald. 06 04 2017. Joanne McCarthy. “Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft was ‘weak ineffectual’ on child sexual abuse.”

FORMER Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft’s response to child sexual abuse allegations was “weak, ineffectual and showed no regard for the need to protect children from the risk that they would be preyed upon,” counsel assisting the royal commission has found in a final submission.

“It was a failure of leadership,” said counsel assisting Naomi Sharp, in a 276-page submission released on Thursday.

Bishop Herft, who went on to become Archbishop of Perth, “mishandled the allegations of child sexual abuse made against two of the most senior and domineering priests in the diocese”, Mr Lawrence and Archdeacon of Maitland, Peter Rushton.

Bishop Herft’s response to those allegations was “weak, ineffectual, and showed no regard for the need to protect children from the risk that they would be preyed upon”, Ms Sharp said.

While there were significant developments in policies for handling sexual abuse allegations during Bishop Herft’s time, no member of the clergy was formally disciplined after child sex allegations were made; if priests moved to another diocese there were no warnings made by Newcastle Anglicans and survivors were not offered pastoral care and support.

Ms Sharp found that child sex allegations against clergy were “routinely not reported to the NSW Police”.

“While Bishop Herft gave evidence that it was always the policy of the diocese to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police, this policy was fettered in many respects. Bishop Herft considered it was only necessary to report such allegations to the police where the complaints were identified by name, where there was a complaint in writing and where the complaint had some ‘substance’,” Ms Sharp found.

It was “remiss” of Bishop Herft to not make Bishop Farran aware that Mr Lawrence and Rushton, who had been two of the most senior priests in the Diocese, had both been accused of sexually abusing children, Ms Sharp found.

Bishop Herft implied to Bishop Farran that he had no prior knowledge of allegations that Rushton had sexually abused children. This representation was not correct.”

OPINION RJS.

I call on Roger Herft to resign, hand back his AOM and Holy Orders, make a personal payment of redress from his long service entitlement and retire gracefully.

Reading submissions into Case Study 42 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Newcastle Diocese of the Anglican Church is highly concerning, with the apparent “Nuremberg” style historical defences argued by the respondent Senior Leaders and Bishops called to give evidence.

Without a laser-like argument, it is possible that some Bishops may be able to create a loophole to rewrite events from their own defensive arguments.

This will also be part of the denialists argument to defend the legacy of individual Bishops.

It looks like some fearless senior leaders need to stand up and put a stop to this revisionist strategy.

Perhaps a very strongly worded communique from all current serving Senior leaders condemning the event revisionism within the defence submissions may in some way prevent the contagion of this false respondent defence argument from infecting the real evidential conclusions of CS42.

Otherwise,  arguing CS 42  will become a stuck position with different sides arguing till “doomsday”.

The survivors and the State have won the moral ethical argument notwithstanding revisionist defences,  the internal politics may be so intractable that survivors and their advocates withdraw from any internal “theological” debate and argue from a  state based secular legal moral and ethical position.

The fact that certain respondents have chosen this path of denialism and obscurantism indicates that only Defrocking actions that are done successfully will finally allow these false arguments to be consigned to the dustbin of the event horizon.

It is like Hydra heads you lop one off in an argument only to see them regrow.

Otherwise strong outside secular oversight is really the only practical answer.

The Diocese of Perth could be resistant to transformation.

The perceived “self-serving denialism” of the Senior Leader who has effectively left a “poisoned well” behind them, combined with the  “usual  desire” of group members  after their  ex-leaders  exit,  to sweep the past away and refuse to learn from it,  can be a huge factor that  prevents  and stifles  real lasting transparent reform.

This will require complex and complete change management.

Sadly even with active pressure groups and extreme, State and secular pressure, I cannot see the Diocese of Perth reforming itself without an entirely independent review and reform process.

Sadly also it means victim/survivors, family, friends and supporters outside “the walls” will still require the collective support of Politicians, State and Federal legislation, the Judiciary, the State Federal and International Police services, and a fearless Media dedicated to Investigative Journalism that exposes the truth,  to effect change.

Internal change may well be, grudging, slow and face saving. This is a tragedy that occurs when those in power actively or disinterestedly undermine needed change agents.

I call on Roger Herft to resign, hand back his AOM and Holy Orders, make a personal payment of redress from his long service entitlement and retire gracefully.

A defrocking action will take time and effort that could be used to rebuild and support new reformation that allows justice for Historical victim/survivors families and their supporters.

Voluntary renunciation of State Awards  and Church ‘Holy Orders’, by the Bishop respondents also indicates not only personal understanding and contrition, but will allow for the commitment of the Anglican Church to new reform and acknowledgement of the past.  

It will assist in the transformation to far better protection for children and young people within the Anglican Church in the future being  seen as  genuine.

Their understanding of restorative justice principals as well as true contrition by voluntary relenquishment  allows for future leaders to start a positive transformational process from a clear position.

 

To allow a Bishop to effectively retire with no consequences is a terrible message to send to the secular world.  

The Church should accept its corporate vicarious liability as well as the individual leaders named in the Royal Commission with adverse findings taking responsibility for their personal failings in the often obstructionist way they and the  Institutions they worked for responded to Survivors. 

The Bishops concerned:

Should examine their conscious and agree or acknowledge that “ cover up” is tantamount to abuse. 

Allowing offenders to continue to offend makes those that had the chance to prevent the cycle of offending “criminally ethically and morally responsible for the damage done to victims who experienced abuse after knowledge of the perpetrator’s actions became known and was not responded to. 

Historical arguments about the “culture of the time”  are arguments that current researchers across the disciplines put less weight on than the actual dynamic of awareness of the particular situation.

Francis Sullivan the Head of the  Roman Catholic Church Australia’s Truth Justice and Reconciliation Council, has this to say about the hearings and case Studies into the Catholic Church in Australia. His words have echoes for the Anglican Church in Australia.

“They didn’t [report] people to the police – that’s complicity. They refused to believe victims… I see this royal commission as an exercise in social purging, and the church has to really come to terms with itself. The Catholic Church is not great about telling the truth.”(1)

Without such reform and transformation, the Anglican Churches mission and message to the people of Perth will be lost in the darkness of denialism obscurantism minimisation and reactionary avoidance.

A House divided cannot stand.

Opinion RJS.

Strong words for difficult times, there remain many good hearted Church Workers keen to start a process of transformation.

Compassion to all caught in the storm of the Royal Commission.

Links

(1) The Good Fight Francis Sullivan: His mission: to ensure the Catholic Church atones for its sins. No wonder Francis Sullivan faces powerful enemies.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/the-good-fight-francis-sullivans-mission-for-catholic-atonement/news-story/02cac604c7e7a9148eaf63c9ce1c1b17

Newcastle Herald. 06 04 2017. Joanne McCarthy. Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft was ‘weak ineffectual’ on child sexual abuse.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4580355/bishop-roger-herfts-failure-of-leadership/

Child Abuse Royal Commission: Counsel’s submission criticises Newcastle Anglican bishops. ABC Online 060417.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-06/child-abuse-royal-commission-newcastle-anglican-submissions/8421814

RC Senior Council Naomi Sharpes Proposed Final Submissions.

http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/downloadfile.ashx?guid=d131e1e2-aee9-417f-ba5a-74818fea046b&type=transcriptpdf&filename=Submissions-on-behalf-of-Counsel-Assisting-the-Royal-Commission&fileextension=pdf

Bp Herfts Final Submission Responses.

http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/downloadfile.ashx?guid=57260bb2-51af-4db9-b659-10c5f4fd1239&type=transcriptpdf&filename=Submissions-in-reply-on-behalf-of-Archbishop-Roger-HERFT&fileextension=pdf

Herft resignation a surprise to Newcastle abuse survivors

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-16/herft-resignation-a-surprise-to-newcastle-abuse-survivors/8126322

Note the media in December did not realise that Bp Herft had retired and not formally resigned.

Lawyer Peter Kelso an abuse survivor and legal advocate from Newcastle requests Roger Herft to make restitution by giving up his “church funded pension” as a payment of redress to Survivors and resign

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-06/lawyer-demands-perth-archbishop-give-up-pension/8165288

Dear Bishop Roger,

I am a solicitor in Newcastle. I have lived here since 1984. I act for many survivors of institutional child abuse all around Australia. For a considerable part of my time here you were the Bishop of Newcastle.

You have admitted to the Child Abuse Royal Commission that you let the people of Newcastle down; you failed to protect them from the paedophiles in your church who were abusing the children right under your nose. You received complaints but turned your face away.

You can’t even remember the distraught parents who came to see you.

You now realise the gravity of your omissions. It must be dreadful to spend 43 years in ‘service’ for the Church and retire with such an appalling legacy. You have ‘resigned’ as you say but truthfully you were nearing retirement anyway, weren’t you?

So it’s not really a resignation is it?

It’s actually a form of voluntary early retirement. I imagine you will be accepting all the benefits of long service and that is what bothers me and prompts me to write to you.

If you are truly remorseful for what you failed to do, will you abandon your rights to a church pension and donate the money you would have received to the victims?

In other words, volunteer to treat yourself as someone who deserves no privileges, as if you were summarily dismissed by your employer?

What are your thoughts on this?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Kelso
Director
KELSO LAWYERS

 

http://morningmail.org/anglican-church-shut-well-sue/

Front page Cover of Newcastle Herald after Roger Herft appeared for Cross Examination. August 2016.

Herft Newcastle Herald Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I think the Herald article nails it. It seems to me that the church should be about both the theological principle and the personal action of restorative justice, but I’m not seeing or hearing it from the church yet.

    Like

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