Junior Priest Peter Slipper Is Just a Wine-loving Larrikin, Says Archbishop John Hepworth

By Matthew Fynes-Clinton
May 11, 2012

The Slipper Enigma, in QWeekend, May 12-13, 2012 Source: The Courier-Mail

PETER Slipper, junior priest, political turncoat and former parliamentary Speaker, is "not naughty" but a "classic larrikin" who likes a second bottle of red, according to the archbishop who ordained him.

John Hepworth ordained Slipper as a deacon (subordinate clergyman) in the Traditional Anglican Communion in 2003, before his elevation to a priest five years later.

Hepworth, a former priest in both the standard Anglican and Catholic folds, created a storm last year when he revealed that as a seminarian and junior cleric, he was subjected to repeated rapes by Catholic clergy.

The Archbishop has suspended Slipper from his dual roles as priest and chancellor or senior legal officer of the TAC, pending the outcome of the current claims against him. (Slipper, while denying all allegations, has also stood aside as Speaker on full pay of $323,750.)

But Hepworth’s instincts are to defend him.

“I’ve always said that Peter is not naughty, but the classic larrikin,” Hepworth says. “He likes a good night out and he certainly likes a second bottle of red. It’s just an interesting phenomenon in Australian life with the Christian who drinks and is happy and so on.

"We’re uncomfortable with devoutness, and we tend to associate Christian life not with the exuberance of say, European Catholicism and Mozart high mass. We associate it with Methodism and wowserism.

“He had wanted to be a priest, I think, from university days. And as a bishop, I thought, ‘Yes, he does have the makings of a priestly vocation’. What I saw was a depth of faith and a commitment to a devout life, beyond the average.”

If Slipper is cleared of his latest trials, Hepworth believes plans will continue for a life after politics as a fully functional priest.

Continue reading Matthew Fynes-Clinton's extraordinary story of this enigmatic political player in QWeekend magazine, with the Saturday Courier-Mail.








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