Anglican Bishop of Newcastle backs abuse victims at Easter

By Tim Connell
Newcastle Herald
March 27, 2016

ONE of the Hunter’s top Anglicans has used Easter to back the alleged victims who will testify at Royal Commission hearings into sexual abuse in the church.

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Greg Thompson, told an Easter Sunday congregation at Christ Church Cathedral to resist “fence-sitting” and to “bear witness” to society’s wrongs.

“In the time of the Royal Commission, it is our role to listen to the survivors,” Bishop Thompson said.

“To seek to understand the journey they have taken to come and tell their story.”

With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse due to hold public hearings in Newcastle this year, Bishop Thompson said it was part of the Christian ethos to “stand with those who need help”.

“Really, to witness is more than being a bystander,” he told the congregation.

“We are asked to walk the talk.”

Bishop Thompson revealed to Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy last year that he had been groomed and sexually abused as a 19-year-old in the 1970s by the late bishop Ian Shevill and a Hunter Anglican priest.

In his sermon, the bishop emphasized the power of Easter to bring people together in places as disparate as Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and the Sydney neighbourhood of Kings Cross.

He invoked the US civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the bravery of schoolgirl Ruby Coles in being one of the first black students to attend school in the face of anger and abuse from supporters of segregation.

Among those listening was parishioner Paul Smith, of Warners Bay.

“For me, Easter is new life. It’s the culmination of our faith,” he said.

“Without Easter Sunday it doesn’t make sense. It helps us get in touch with the transcendent. It’s as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.”

Mr Smith said he planned to have lunch with his family and pray for his loved ones.

Earlier, a gathering of about 150 people on Merewether beach had watched the sun rise over an ecumenical service.


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