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Bishop Roger Herft: The Determination of the Episcopal Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2022

Garth Blake*
Affiliation:
Chair of the Safe Ministry Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia

Extract

In December 2021, the Episcopal Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Australia (the Board) was satisfied that Bishop Roger Herft, the former Bishop of Newcastle between 1993 and 2005, was unfit to remain in holy orders and determined that he be deposed from the exercise of holy orders (the Board Determination). This decision is significant because it is the first occasion in the Anglican Communion on which a senior church leader has had the most severe sanction of deposition from the exercise of holy orders imposed for their inaction in response to allegations of abuse. The context for this decision has been one of allegations of abuse made against church leaders and the concealment of these allegations by senior church leaders in contravention of the statutory requirement to report the allegations to government authorities. There has also been the public scrutiny through government inquiries of the response of churches and their leaders to child abuse.

Type
Comment
Copyright
Copyright © Ecclesiastical Law Society 2022

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References

1 The Board Determination is available at<https://anglican.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ESB-Determination-Herft-8-December-2021.pdf>, accessed 24 April 2022. The Board consisted of Peter Dunning QC, Bishop William Ray, Bishop Ian Coutts, Mrs Vivien Bleby and Ms Michelle England.

2 Pell v The Queen (2020) 268 CLR 123; [2020] HCA 12. Available at <http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/HCA/2020/12.html>, accessed 13 June 2022.

3 Cunningham v Shearman (2005) 8 EccLJ 114–115.

4 ‘Bishop of Zululand, Monument Makhanya, steps down after sexual misconduct allegation’, ACNS, 16 January 2019, <https://www.anglicannews.org/news/2019/01/bishop-of-zululand-monument-makhanya-steps-down-after-sexual-misconduct-allegation.aspx>, accessed 13 June 2022.

5 Anglican Church of Canada, ‘Public announcement of the resignation of Archbishop Mark MacDonald’, 20 April 2022, <https://www.anglican.ca/news/public-announcement-of-the-resignation-of-archbishop-mark-macdonald/30039033/>, accessed 13 June 2022.

6 C Ojow, ‘Kenyan ACK male bishop face 15 years in jail for sexual harassment’, African Times, 11 January 2022, <https://africantimes.co.ke/kenyan-ack-male-bishop-face-15-years-in-jail-for-sexual-harassment/>, accessed 13 June 2022.

7 ‘France's top court clear Cardinal Barbarin in abuse case’, DW, 14 April 2021, <https://www.dw.com/en/frances-top-court-clear-cardinal-barbarin-in-abuse-case/a-57206223>, accessed 13 June 2022.

8 R v Wilson [2018] NSWDC 487, available at<https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/5c8b1a45e4b02a5a800bf4d6>, accessed 13 June 2022.

9 Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), The Anglican Church: investigation report, October 2020, pp v, ix. Available at<https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/22519/download/anglican-church-investigation-report-6-october-2020.pdf>, accessed 13 June 2022.

10 The Special Tribunal is established under the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia for hearing charges against diocesan bishops.

11 Driver and Weatherill v Davies (2012) 14 EccLJ 456–457.

12 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Report of Case Study No. 3, October 2014, <https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/file-list/Case%20Study%203%20-%20Findings%20Report%20-%20North%20Coast%20Childrens%20Home.pdf>, accessed 14 June 2022.

13 (2016) 18 ELJ 209–214.

14 Appeal of Keith Francis Slater, 19 January 2017, available at<https://anglican.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Appeal-of-Keith-Francis-Slater.pdf>, accessed 14 June 2022. The Appellate Tribunal is established under the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia and its jurisdiction includes the hearing of appeals.

15 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Report of Case Study No. 42, November 2017 (redacted version), available at<https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/case_study_42_-_findings_report_-_the_responses_of_the_anglican_diocese_of_newcastle_to_instances_and_allegations_of_child_sexual_abuse.pdf>, accessed 13 June 2022; unredacted version (henceforth Case Study no 42 Report) available at <https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/file-list/unredacted-case-study-no-42.pdf>, accessed 24 April 2022.

16 Sturt and Anor v the Right Reverend Dr Brian Farran, Bishop of Newcastle and Ors [2012] NSWSC 400, available at<https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/54a636e93004de94513d97d5>, accessed 13 June 2022.

17 Case Study no 42 Report, p 284.

18 R v Lawrence [2019] NSWDC 363, available at<https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/5d3a91f6e4b02a5a800c2b80>, accessed 13 June 2022.

19 R v Lawrence [2019] NSWDC 577, available at<https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/5da7bc6ae4b0ab0bf6072eb9>, accessed 13 June 2022.

20 Case Study no 42 Report, pp 25, 166–167.

21 Ibid, pp 321–322.

22 Ibid, p 25.

23 Ibid, p 26.

24 Ibid, pp 179–180.

25 Ibid, pp 181–182.

26 Ibid, pp 182–183.

27 Ibid, pp 184, 186.

28 Ibid, pp 189–194.

29 Ibid, p 196.

30 Ibid, pp 197–198.

31 Ibid, p 199.

32 Ibid, pp 200–202.

33 Ibid, p 203.

34 Ibid, pp 202, 204.

35 Ibid, pp 173–175.

37 Board Determination at paras 1–5.

38 Ibid at paras 6–7.

39 Ibid at paras 22–28.

40 Ibid at paras 8–14.

41 Ibid at paras 29–38.

42 Ibid at para 61.

43 Ibid at para 66.

44 Bishop Herft, who had become Archbishop of Perth in 2005, resigned in December 2016: see ‘Perth Archbishop Roger Herft resigns after admitting to let down sex abuse survivors, ABC News, 16 December 2016, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-15/anglican-archbishop-of-perth-roger-herft-to-retire/8125640>, accessed 15 June 2022.

45 Board Determination at paras 86–90.

46 Ibid at para 91.

47 Ibid at para 95.

48 Ibid at paras 104–115.

49 Ibid at paras 116–124.

50 Ibid at paras 125–128.

51 Ibid at paras 129–130 and Appendix 2.

52 Ibid at para 131.

53 ‘A statement by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia’, 13 December 2021, <https://anglican.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ESB-Herft-statement-Primate-131221.pdf>, accessed 13 June 2022.

54 IICSA, Anglican Church, p vi.