OPINION: Bishop’s actions speak volumes

Newcastle Herald

By Sean Tynan June 29, 2015

THE following is a response to Gabriel Wingate-Pearse’s opinion piece (‘‘Compassion, and so on’’ Herald, 23/6) .

I acknowledge that as the manager of Zimmerman Services, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s child protection service, I am biased. It’s not my intent to comment on the Right Reverend Greg Thompson, Anglican Bishop of Newcastle. Nor am I defending the eloquence, or otherwise, of Catholic Bishop Bill Wright and his introduction of Francis Sullivan on February 25, 2015.

Critical analysis of the diocese’s commitment to protecting children and working to address its terrible legacy of historic child sexual abuse is legitimate and important. I acknowledge our performance to date is not perfect.

However, I believe the article’s premise is unfair. Its argument is that a poor introduction by Bishop Bill at a public forum equates to a lack of commitment or leadership in addressing such issues. Shouldn’t such criticism be based on a more comprehensive consideration of words and deeds?

In my first meeting with Bishop Bill in 2011, he wanted a comprehensive briefing on the diocese’s issues of child abuse. I left absolutely certain of the bishop’s capacity and determination to lead the diocese and do everything reasonable to promote healing and to cooperate and actively support the exposure and investigation of past crimes, whilst working to maximise protection of children and minimise future risk.

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