Sectarianism Clericalism, From Evangelical to Liberal Anglican to Anglo-Catholicism. Risk Factors for Abuse. Redefining risk factors across a spectrum of Theological positions


Advocacy and the Royal Commission has produced some stark statistics. For survivors outside the Church, this debate may be articulating ” how many angels are dancing on the heads of a pin” but for those interested in the Systemic issues surrounding risk factors the Royal Commission hearings in Case Study 50 Roman Catholic Church and case study 52, Anglican Church produced some startling results.

Firstly here is Profesor Patrick Parkinson speaking on Anglo-Catholicism at Case Study 52.

Parkinson on Anglo-Catholicism

5 PROFESSOR PARKINSON: The response in different dioceses
16 and over generations has taken many different forms. But
17 one of the observable features of the reports which have
18 been done – and I particularly focused on Adelaide and
19 Brisbane because we have reports of what had happened in
20 those dioceses going back some years – what one sees in
21 that is a very strong culture of protection of the clergy.
22 In Adelaide, those who challenged the issues, those who
23 tried to raise the issues above the parapet were attacked
24 for doing so. I think we have heard from Bishop Thompson
25 some very similar patterns in Newcastle.
27 That culture of protection of the clergy, that culture
28 of dealing with things internally in a way that makes
29 people discouraged from going to the police – that
30 self-facilitates abuse, because somebody who has a tendency
31 or an orientation towards the abuse of children is going to
32 make a risk calculation. What happens if it is disclosed?
33 If the risk of consequences is low, one is much more
34 encouraged to do that than if the risk of consequences is
35 high. So the culture of the church, in terms of how it
36 will deal with these issues, if it comes out, is itself
37 causative, or at least facilitative, of some sexual abuse
38 in church communities.

.17/03/2017 (260) 26651 PANEL 1.1

PROFESSOR PARKINSON: I fear saying something
20 controversial, but it’s not the first time I have ever done
21 so. If you look at the issues in the Anglican Church,
22 there are three dioceses which stand out. They are
23 Brisbane, they are Adelaide and Newcastle. And then there
24 is the CEBS data, which is a separate set of issues,
25 I think, with particularly high figures in Tasmania and in
26 Adelaide.
28 Now, that is quite a clear pattern, and it raises
29 issues as to whether there are patterns in
30 Anglo-Catholicism which are in some ways similar to the
31 patterns in Catholicism.
33 It must be remembered that the Church of England was
34 not, in some ways, a break from the church of Rome. It was
35 in terms of governance, but the Church of England continued
36 the traditions and ways of governance of the church prior
37 to the reformation, but for some significant areas in which
38 reform theology came in. So, for example, the theology of
39 the mass or holy communion is different in the Anglican
40 Church, and there are other differences. But, essentially,
41 the Church of England was a continuation of Catholicism
42 within the boundaries of the British Isles, and the
43 Anglo-Catholic tradition in the church has continued that
44 parallelism.
46 So I draw attention to that because I do think that we
47 see in these figures a disparate picture of child sexual
1 abuse by clergy in the Anglican Church of Australia.
MS FURNESS: Perhaps you can make that a bit clearer for
4 us. You have referred to there being a pattern. What is
5 the “pattern” in respect of those first three dioceses?
7 PROFESSOR PARKINSON: Others may be better able to comment
8 but, essentially, one would think of Brisbane and Adelaide
9 as being largely Anglo-Catholic in their orientation, their
10 churchmanship, as we say; Melbourne, rather mixed; Sydney,
11 rather solidly evangelical; Newcastle, again,
12 Anglo-Catholic; Tasmania, mixed, but has had a history,
13 I think, of a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition – that’s
14 changing. The others I can’t comment.
16 It’s an issue. It’s an issue.

Parkinson on the Culture of Clericalism

21 PROFESSOR PARKINSON: I think that when you start drawing
22 attention to the parallels with the Catholic Church –
23 obviously, celibacy is not an issue in the Anglican Church,
24 but clericalism is, and the work I have done on this area
25 does suggest to me that certainly in Adelaide, where there
26 is a big inquiry, to some extent in Brisbane where we have
27 the benefit of an inquiry about 12 years ago, that one sees
28 similar patterns of clericalism or protection of clergy in
29 those dioceses. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened
30 elsewhere, I’m sure it has. But I see some parallels.
32 MS FURNESS: There has been a deal of evidence about
33 clericalism in the various Catholic hearings, but just for
34 the purpose of this hearing, can you define what you mean
35 by “clericalism”?
37 PROFESSOR PARKINSON: Different people give different
38 definitions, but what I’m drawing attention to is
39 a theological belief system that the clergy are different
40 from the laity; the clergy are in some sense brothers, in a
41 male sense, have responsibilities to each other, and there
42 is a distinction between the clergy and the laity.





Trying to distill Professor Parkinson’s groundbreaking work and draw conclusions from it can allow for a degree of Secularism or Sectarianism to enter into the conflict zone surrounding this issue.

In my discussions across the spectrum of Theological positions within Anglicanism from different group members, I have pushed a strong Advocacy line that “Anglo-Catholicism” is a Risk factor for abuse.

I perhaps should instead say “Clericalism”. I still have concerns about extreme Anglo-Catholicism which is now only found in isolated pockets of the Anglican Communion.

On Evangelicalism and Sydney Diocese again if a Culture of ” Clericalism” develops within Evangelical wings of the Church then this too may be a risk factor.

GS suggested this concept

“To reform the Church and gain best practise Child protection   a  critical sectarianism could be replaced with an understanding that those “company men or women” who would rather protect the Church, remain in denial of the Royal Commission findings, and become a reactionary force in the way of needed reform from any branch of the Church are a danger to reform reconciliation and redress.”


In Christian Theology we understand the Church to be made up of many parts making a whole.

In other spiritual and religious traditions, different strands of thought and practise combine together to make a whole.

In Japan Zen Buddhism and other Buddhist traditions combine together with Shinto to make a whole.

In Politics parties and groups combine together. It is only by bringing together different viewpoints do we create meaningful change.

If reformation transformation and renewal is to occur within institutions as a response to the Royal Commission it is vital that we combine together and not divide.

I will still passionately advocate and call out all parts of the whole in regard to the process of change but sectarianism like in Ireland Syria and other conflict zones may not lead to the needed changes required.

The significant data sets on risk factors within “Anglo-Catholic” and “Catholic” theological styles provides evidence that a toxic culture of “Clericalism”, “Denialism”  rampant “disassociation” , extreme lack of any form of “empathy”  or care for Children and the powerless laity by hierarchies in the upper echelons of Institutions has created  a “toxic culture” demonstrated by a cadre of Leaders who in their evidence to the Royal Commission showed that ” I don’t recall”, and “it wasn’t of much interest to me” and other dissembling avoidant responses is callous disregard to all the good honest “Church Workers” and  the Australian public who like Tim Minchin may decide  that those respondent leaders are dishonest “scum”.

Also, risk factors within both Houses of Laity and Clergy remain when alliances to power brokers and reactionary defence mechanisms as demonstrated in Newcastle and elsewhere both in  Catholic and Anglican Churches alienate survivors.

Protective screens are used to deny obscure or minimise the statistics and individual testimony.

With respondent Leaders across Australia looking at internal depositions and external State trials, only properly resourced parish recovery teams and best practise change management within the Executive Leadership teams (often appointed by respondent Leaders) will prevent old guard denialist reactionary elements  frustrating diluting and resisting  the required Legislative changes as well as practice and procedural changes within the institutions.


“Whistleblower insiders” Michael Elliot, John Cleary and Greg Thompson in Newcastle have all commented that legislative change on its own will not effect hearts and minds.

Link to CS42 Transcript and CS 52.

Likewise within the Roman Catholic Church change agents within the Episcopate as well as outside such as Francis Sullivan face daunting opposition from protectionist reactionary elements.

ref AUS Murdoch Francis Sullivan)


The good faithful people who honour an “Anglo-Catholic” tradition in their spiritual journey have been betrayed by the Leaders who chose a  toxic culture of Clericalism over the needs of the victim/survivors their families and the community.


Post Scriptum

Respondent Leader R Herft in a defensive statement to media carefully crafted by the best PR and Legal Team Institutional money could buy stated this to the Media and the Australian Public.

I’ve become aware that the sacred trust that the people of this region placed upon me, I have let them down,” he said.

“I let them down badly.

“[I have] let down the survivors in a way that remorse itself is a very poor emotion to express.”

Roger Herft thanked the royal commission for holding him “personally accountable” during the hearing, which stretched over two weeks in the New South Wales city.

At the time he described how he had developed a “much more realistic view” of the priesthood in recent years.

“I had a very high view which has been questioned within the last several years,” he said.

Respondent Leader R Herft Anglican CS42 PR Statement


The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism Dr David Hilliard
Reader in History, Flinders University Adelaide, Australia.


Parkinson Report  2009 Anglican Church

study of reported child sexual abuse in the Anglican church may 2009 full report

Wikipedia Anglo-Catholicism

Coverage CS42.

Newcastle’s ring of evil: abuse in Catholic, Anglican churches.

HighMass (1)
Adamstown Parish Newcastle ” Anglo-Catholic” Parish in Newcastle where accused deposed “defrocked”  perpetrators worship.
 ( see CS 42 evidence Elliot  Farren and  Appellby CS 42 ) ( links to be uploaded).
Rev Christopher Bird.
SSC  concerning denialist tendencies and protective of  Perpetuators Lawrence Goyette and possibly other unidentified persons of interest. Rev Christopher Bird.
CS 42 Evidence: Michael Elliot Retired Detective and Professional Standards Director Newcastle Diocese states that when investigated in regard to a Safe Ministry Order Rev Bird appeared aggressive hitting a wooden plank from a pew against a Rubbish bin and breaking the plank while staring at Elliot in a confrontational manner. Rev Bird was resistant to upholding a Safe Ministry Order in regards defrocked ex-Priest Lawrence and  Goyette deposed musician.
Wikepedia SSC

“The fortunes of SSC have waxed and waned since the early days of the Catholic Revival, but for its members, it has always been an important source of priestly formation, discipline and fraternity. Priests of the society can be recognised by the small gold lapel cross that they generally wear. On it is inscribed the motto of the society, In Hoc Signo Vinces (“In This Sign Conquer”).

There is also a section of the society, the Pusey Guild, for ordinands and approved candidates for training for the priesthood.[1]

SSC Rule

SSC The Rulebook

“. The Brethren shall do all in their power to support other priests in their ministry, avoiding criticising them or in any other way compromising the priesthood.”

i. The Brethren must love the Church and have a profound respect for her institutions and mission,”

“The Society’s first Object aims at the sanctification of its members”.


Appendix Notes and Research points from Hilliard ” The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism”

Hilliard pp 16 re changes to Diocesan Theological viewpoints

Since the 1950s, as Australia’s links with Britain have weakened, the idea of an English national Catholicism has lost whatever appeal that it had to an earlier generation,

“the new value placed on ‘community’ and spontaneity sits uneasily with the traditional Anglo-Catholic emphasis on hierarchy and formality in worship.’

Hierarchy and formality in worship could be seen as an underlying risk factor or indicative of a possible rise in clericalism.

See CS 50 RCC Tom Doyle. ( link and amplification required)

ED Note Hilliard here is writing on the Anglo-Catholic form within Anglican Churches, not English Catholicism within the Roman Catholic Church which is a minority, given the roots of the Roman Catholic Church since Invasion/ Colonisation, 1788  were predominately Irish before immigration waves 1860 – 2017. ( Ed opinion unsourced).

“New research in history and theology has made it harder
for Anglo-Catholics to be as definite as they once were about such things as the
apostolic succession and the inherent Catholicism of the English Reformation.” (the 1960s.)

Interesting factoid above for a PHD Theology Student . 

The charismatic movement has had a deep influence in the Anglo-Catholic rural dioceses of Bunbury and North Queensland, whereas ‘extreme’ Anglo-Catholicism has flourished only among clergy in the diocese of Ballarat, under Bishop John Hazlewood (1975-93). In
the capital cities since the 1960s many parish clergy and professional
theologians who had been reared in the Anglo-Catholic tradition moved
towards radical theology, while retaining the framework of sacramental religion.
And in the early 1980s Anglican Catholic Renewal, which had been intended to
forge a new identity, was fatally weakened by division among its members over
the issue of women priests. However, the divisions among Anglo-Catholics are no greater than among Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. Whatever form it
takes in the future, there will continue to be a Catholic dimension to Anglicanism
in Australia.




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