Photo Credit: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Anglican Church of Australia has restated its firm commitment to the safety of children and vulnerable people, following the defrocking of Roger Herft, formerly Archbishop of Perth and Bishop of Newcastle.
The Episcopal Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Australia determined on 13 December the Mr Herft is “unfit to remain in Holy Orders” and so will no longer be recognised as an ordained member of the Anglican Church.
The decision was made in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, made public in 2020. The report determined that Mr Herft had failed to deal appropriately with allegations of sexual abuse of children during his time as Bishop of Newcastle between 1993 and 2005.
There is no suggestion, and there has been no allegation, that Mr Herft himself personally participated in such behaviour. The Board has examined the extent to which he discharged his responsibility as bishop.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Geoff Smith, said the church has been “shocked and dismayed” at the findings from the Royal Commission, and of the “scope of our failure to tackle child sexual abuse within the Church and the depth of survivors’ pain and suffering”.
“We are deeply ashamed of the many ways in which we let down survivors, both in the way we have acted and the way we failed to act,” he said in a statement.
“The Anglican Church of Australia is committed to the safety of children and vulnerable people in its care and to ensuring that information concerning possible abuse is taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.”