Trying to make amends

The Australian

Dan Box and Jared Owens
From: The Australian
November 29, 2013

IN a prearranged interview outside the royal commission, former Anglican registrar Pat Comben tells reporters he has left the priesthood in protest, he says, at the most recent child sex abuse scandal to engulf the church.

This scandal centres on the Diocese of Grafton, in northern NSW, and particularly the actions of a few senior officials including Comben, a “dominant”, “assertive” and “aggressive” character, the commission hears.

For years, the commission is told, the diocese refused to accept legal liability for dozens of cases of brutal physical and sexual abuse committed at a Church of England children’s home in Lismore. Some of the worst of this abuse, including rape, was committed by priests.

Speaking after giving evidence in Sydney’s Governor Macquarie Tower, Comben says he was forced by others in the diocese to take this tough line in the negotiations. If not, he says, “I would have been sacked by the church.”

A current administrator of the diocese, Archdeacon Greg Ezzy, is later asked on oath by the commission about Comben’s account. “This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this and certainly that would not have happened,” Ezzy claims.

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