Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, Retires “A Year Ahead of Schedule”

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What many had suspected was soon to come (and we amongst many had suggested needed to come) has finally happened. This from the Diocese of Perth:

15 December 2016

The Archbishop of Perth, The Most Reverend Roger Herft, informed the Diocesan Council today of his decision to retire a year ahead of schedule, namely 7 July 2017. The Archbishop will continue to take accrued leave until that date.

In accepting his decision, the Diocesan Council thanked the Archbishop for his significant contribution to the Anglican Church of Australia and the wider Anglican Communion over 43 years of faithful ministry, and particularly as Archbishop of Perth since 2005.

In accordance with the Archbishop’s Statute 2016, the Administrator will convene early in 2017 a committee of clergy and laity elected by the Synod of the Diocese to appoint a successor.

No doubt attention will soon shift from Herft to who that successor will be.

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Bruce Lyon

    It is to be hoped and prayed that the Lord will raise up His choice for the successor. Someone who upholds classic, orthodox, 39-articles-respectful, creedal Christianity, Anglican style. A good and faithful servant. Plus, a saavy one.

  2. Alexander Thomson

    I am in the UK, so I do not know your situation; but I would not be confident of getting a Biblical man!

  3. survivor

    Herft will be defrocked and likely face criminal charges. Farren may face a ecclesiastical court. Appleby will face an ecclesiastical court and possible negative findings in tregard to honesty of testimony. Alf Holland is too old for the State to consider charges but an ecclesiastical court is a possibility although his health may preclude this. On other juristictions AB George in Adelaide has some current issues in frame but as yet no matters on foot although this may change. Bp Peter Stuart may face criticism in regard to statute manipulation towards a closed perpetuator favoured culture. This may mean his career is stalled. It looks possible that Bp Greg may retire due to stress related illness from the bullying and intimidation he recieved from certain elements in Newcastle.

    1. Neil

      Very drastic measures to take for the good of the Gospel. Pray that the Church survives the problems caused by lack of leadership

      1. ReformandTransform

        The Church will survive. However, it may not resemble the one we know now. I am convinced that would be a good thing.

    2. David Ould

      hi “survivor”.
      I’m not sure that the language of “manipulation” is correct. But you are right that Bishop Stuart’s approach to some of the safe ministry legislation (and the suggestion that he advocated for changes that were seen to be overly supportive of respondents (i.e. those who were accused)) was a topic of conversation at the Inquiry.

      On Day 229, around pages 24 et seq of the transcript, counsel for the Inquiry pushes him quite hard on it. Then on Day 230; around pages 99-102 the accusation is supported by John Cleary (current Diocesan Business Manager) himself in his evidence.

  4. Wade King

    My main question is simple.
    If Roger Herft has expressed remorse over his failure to report evidence of paedophile offences to the police previously, will he do so now and name the offenders?
    The statements he has made clearly show that he has such evidence.
    A supplementary question is:
    If he has knowledge of such offences and fails to report them to police now, is he guilty of an offence himself?

    1. David Ould

      hi Wade.
      I think the offenders have already been named as part of the Royal Commission process, at least that’s my understanding of what happened at the hearings.
      In terms of Herft’s own criminal culpability; yes, that’s something that needs to be addressed. To know of a serious crime and not report it to the police is itself a crime. I addressed this in a previous piece where I wrote:

      It’s been pointed out to me that not reporting a criminal offence may itself be a crime, according to the NSW Crimes Act 1900.

      Sect 316 (1) If a person has committed a serious indictable offence and another person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that he or she has information which might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction of the offender for it fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a member of the Police Force or other appropriate authority, that other person is liable to imprisonment for 2 years.

      That’s not to say that a charge will be brought, I wonder if it would be in the public interest, but the repeated failure to act (and particularly since Herft was well aware of the existence of the “yellow paper envelope file” containing details of a large number of allegations of sexual abuse) places him in a difficult position.

  5. Wade King

    G’day David.
    Well, some names have been mentioned but as far as I am aware no evidence of any offence has been reported to police except in relation to the case that was tried in the past and “no-billed” (is that the correct expression?). Certainly no-one else has been charged. If Roger Herft has apologised for not reporting to police previously evidence he had of (alleged) child abuse by particular person(s), will he do so now so that the police can investigate those individuals? Perhaps providing the police with the contents of the yellow envelope files would be a good start.
    I am less concerned about Roger Herft being charged than I am about action being taken against those actively involved in child sexual abuse, perhaps still actively engaged in their sordid practices, to stop them from destroying the integrity and possibly even the lives of their victims. While all the attention has been on the resignation of a senior churchman, the very people he failed to act against may possibly be sodomising little boys now and in the future with nothing being done to stop them.

    1. David Ould

      hi Wade. I think many will share your concern. To be fair to Herft, I think the onus now falls upon the Diocese itself but I think since the infamous file of yellow envelopes was disclosed to the Inquiry that will now follow it’s proper course.

      At least I would hope so.

    2. Andrew

      Hi Wade,
      In reference to the part of your comment that says that only one matter was reported to the Police and the matter was eventually ‘no-billed’ in the Courts, I just wish to clarify that this matter WASN’T REPORTED TO POLICE BY THE CHURCH but by one of the alleged victims. It was made very apparent during the course of the RC that the Crown intends to reinstate those charges. According to evidence presented to the RC, the church was notified of this matter in 1975 (Bp Shevill), 1984 (Bp Appleby), 1996 (Lawrence and Herft), 1999 (Lawrence and Herft) and eventually, after no action was was taken, the alleged victim went to Police in 2000. The church had numerous opportunities to report this alleged offender to Police and chose not to. The only action the Church took in relation to this matter pre approx 2008 was to support and protect the alleged offender. I agree wholeheartedly with your view that Herft should now ‘tell all’. As a supposed ‘Man of God’, I can’t see he has any other option available to him.

  6. Wade King

    G’day again David.
    Another thought that occurs to me is that there is a subtlety in all of this which I feel is being missed by many. As I understand it, the terms of reference of the Royal Commission require it to investigate institutional responses to child sexual abuse, not the abuse itself. A lot of evidence given has implied child sexual abuse has occurred often in the past, and may well be continuing to happen frequently, in the Newcastle region (and elsewhere) but the Royal Commissioner necessarily has to focus on the institutional responses to that abuse rather than on the abuse itself. The effect of that subtlety is to allow the perpetrators of child sexual abuse to be accused in evidence, and perhaps to deny it or simply to remain silent if they give evidence themselves, without any likelihood of action being taken against them any time soon and possibly not at any time in the future. The Commissioner’s role is quite different from that of the police; he can’t take immediate action to prevent child sexual abuse even if he knows it is occurring; the police can, and presumably will, but they have to have evidence on which they can act to stop a paedophile committing further offences. It seems Roger Herft does have evidence of (alleged) paedophile offences committed by certain persons. Will he now report it to the police so they can act to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent further predation of children in the future?

    1. David Ould

      Yes, I think that’s an important observation. Again, I think the onus is not on Herft (who is no longer in possession nor having access to the information) but on the Diocese. My understanding is that there is a clear intent on their part to deal with everything properly.

      1. Wade King

        Sorry to disagree, David. There is an onus on Roger Herft. He may not have the yellow envelopes any more but he does know whom complaints were made about and what he was told about them. He must also know that not to report child sexual abuse is to allow it to continue. All evidence shows that paedophiles are repeat offenders and recidivists: they go on offending until they are stopped. It is only realistic to expect that those who were abusing children before are still doing it and will continue to do so. Retiring from the field and keeping mum is not a legitimate option. How will action be taken to prevent more little boys from being sodomised by those who have been doing it with impunity for years? Do we have to wait for the Royal Commission to report at some time in the distant future after many more lives have been wrecked? What would Jesus say about this?

        1. David Ould

          hi Wade.
          I do agree with you that there is a responsibility that lies with Herft. But I think the reality is that he simply doesn’t have the information. The Diocese of Newcastle, however, does have that information and so while there’s still a moral obligation on Herft, the Diocese itself is far better placed to actually make progress.

  7. Wade King

    It seems we still can’t agree on the critical issue of what might be done to stop the child sex abuse that has been described as occurring in Newcastle. You say the former bishop doesn’t have the information but he must have some: he apologised for not having reported to police previously. Surely he could say to police something like: “It was reported to me that Father X had sodomised a/some boy(s) of tender years”. Such an allegation would be enough for police to launch enquiries and then to ask for access to the yellow envelopes or other evidence, and hopefully at least to frighten the paedophiles so they suspend their predatory activity.
    As I said above, these are not simply historical events. Paedophiles continue their crimes until they are stopped. It disturbs me that small boys will probably be suffering over the coming weeks as the paedophiles celebrate with their Christmas and New Year parties. That disturbs me so much that I have woken at midnight thinking about it. How would you feel if it was your son having his rectum torn and his psyche wrecked by one of these evil people? How would you feel if it was happening to you? Sorry if my description is too graphic but I am a doctor and I know what such abuse does to boys physically and emotionally. Who cares for these unfortunate, powerless children?

    1. David Ould

      hi Wade, no disagreement from me that every possible thing should be done. I’m simply observing that there is nothing that Herft knows (especially given his testimony that he cannot recollect many things – although I realise many may not take that at face value) that isn’t recorded to a greater extent in the Diocese itself and already handed over to the Inquiry (who have made referrals to the police.
      I’m in agreement that it is horrific that perpetrators are still free and that both young and old will suffer because of it. You and I simply disagree about the practicalities of how that issue should be dealt with, not whether they should.

      I think it’s easy to scapegoat Herft at this point, notwithstanding what he has done (and not done). If we want to see justice done then that cause is better served by getting the evidence from the most comprehensive and accurate sources. Given his testimony and the other evidence presented to the Inquiry I’m not sure what hounding Herft actually achieves that can’t be better achieved through getting the same information from other better sources. Please don’t read me as either defending him or not wanting these matters to be dealt with. I think the strongest possible action needs to be taken against all abuse of vulnerable people.

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