The "Anglican House Is Burning': Bishop

By Rebekah Ison
ABC News
November 24, 2016

An Anglican bishop says he's received warnings from parishioners that he is not safe in his own diocese after he revealed claims of his abuse as a young man by senior church clerics.

Newcastle bishop Greg Thompson said cathedral parishioners had turned their backs on him, and screws had been placed in his staff members' tyres.

He said the message was that he would face public harassment and public shame if he did not "follow what they want me to do," he told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Thursday.

As bishop of a community plagued by systemic child sexual abuse over decades, he says a national church response is needed as he says the Anglican "house is burning".

Bishop Thompson, who last year went public with his own abuse at the hands of senior diocesan figures, says change will be slow until church "hearts and minds" are persuaded child safety is of the highest order and that victims need proper redress.

He took long pauses as he detailed his alleged abuse by boarders as a child and at the hands of Canon Eric Barker and then-Newcastle Bishop Ian Shevill at the age of 19.

He said Fr Barker kissed and fondled him after a dinner, in which he was heavily encouraged to drink wine.

He said he was "honoured" when he was later invited to watch a film with Fr Barker and Bishop Shevill because he naively thought their attention meant they saw potential in him.

The two men sat either side of him and groped him at the same time as the R-rated film, which depicted a black slave experiencing sexual advances by a white slave owner, played.

"Greg, if you want to get into ministry, we have to have a relationship," Bishop Thompson said Canon Barker later told him.

The commission has heard that a group of influential parishioners wrote to the royal commission questioning the timing of Bishop Thompson's abuse claims.

They said he could have put other young people at risk by waiting until 2015 to come forward.

"It sends a strong message that I'm not safe in that place and there are consequences if I do not follow what they want me to do," he said of the actions of the dissident parishioners.

"Public harassment. Public shame."

The royal commission has heard of a divide within the diocese, with some members believing a number of priests were unfairly disciplined over sex abuse allegations.

Bishop Thompson said he was encouraged at his episcopal consecration to meet the defrocked Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence and his boyfriend Greg Goyette, who were accused of having three-way sex with a teenage boy, and "care for them".

In calling for one consistent practice of professional standards to be applied over the abuse, Bishop Thompson said: "We are facing one of the greatest health crises of our time because of the trauma of child abuse.

He was the last person to give evidence at the 16-day hearing into the Newcastle Anglican diocese - the longest case study at the royal commission so far.








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