BREAKING: Archbishop Herft of Perth to “stand aside”

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This posted up on the Perth Diocesan website

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

I have returned from long service leave. In God’s providence it was good to have this time away.

I was grateful to have the opportunity to meet with members of the Diocese in recent weeks. I am grateful to each of you for your presence, participation and contributions to these conversations. I am particularly grateful to Bishop Kate, Bishop Jeremy and Archdeacon Braden for co-ordinating these consultations.
I have decided to voluntarily stand aside from my role, function and duties as Archbishop of Perth and Metropolitan of Western Australia with immediate effect. This will include all duties including ordinations, pastoral visits, public functions, Synod, Diocesan Council, correspondence and other related engagements.

I have taken this decision after much prayer, thought and consultation with my advisors to allow for the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Perth to flourish. I believe this is the appropriate decision while I focus my attention on the Royal Commission’s ongoing inquiry into the Diocese of Newcastle.

I am humbled by the courage and fortitude of survivors and victims of child sexual abuse as they continue to bear witness to their stories of suffering.

Bishop Kate has been appointed Administrator of the Diocese with full authority, with Bishop Jeremy and Archdeacons Braden Short, Lionel Snell, Kathy Barrett-Lennard, Onesimo Yugusuk and Mandy Herriman assisting in the task. I know that you will support Bishop Kate and the leadership team.

Cheryl and I remain grateful to you for your prayers for us and the family in this challenging time for us all.

You remain in our constant prayers and thoughts as we seek to be faithful to the Christ who is our strength and hope.

Sincerely in Christ



update: here at we’re grateful for Archbishop Herft’s brave decision, which we have previously suggested was the best way forward. It’s a courageous move and we hope you’ll join us in praying for Herft and that Christ is honoured through this process.

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  1. Andrew

    Finally an honourable decision by a Senior Church Leader. Archbishop Herft has recognised and confronted his failings and hopefully his standing aside will set an example to the multitude of others throughout the Anglican Church who have failed children for decades. Hopefully some of the cowards who also appeared at the Royal Commission will follow suit.

  2. Geoff Fletcher

    Not sure I would describe ABp Herft as brave or courageous , when these attributes sit better with actions of personal risk or loss taken to safeguard the good of others. He has just belatedly owned up to actions or omissions which covered up the evil of others and which then allowed it to continue. CS Lewis via Screwtape suggests that courage is the form of every virtue at the point of testing. And when then-Bp Herft of Newcastle was tested he failed, as he now freely admitted in Royal Commission testimony. But perhaps better late than never. Newcastle’s (now soon-to-be former) Bp Greg Thompson seems to be a better candidate to wear the labels of brave & courageous. Perhaps even moreso is Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy who has persevered to expose the ugly actions of abusers and also the obscene actions of those who protected them. By the way, there is currently an excellent piece in the Bible Society’s magazine Eternity (March 2017) about Joanne McCarthy. I would describe her as brave, courageous and Godly.

    I wonder if ABp Herft has or will respond to the open letter on 04/01/17 from Newcastle lawyer Peter Kelso asking and reasoning that he consider foregoing his retirement benefits (say by donation to the support of sexual abuse victims) given the enormity of consequences of his failure while employed at Newcastle, damage which effectively continued and compounded until he finally spoke up. Were he to do THAT, it might get closer to meriting the labels of brave and courageous. Maybe. The right words are a good start but are woefully inadequate if not followed through with commensurate action. I was told once about the 3 Rs : Remorse, Repentance & Reparation. The job’s not done without all 3.

    In his other Royal Commission testimony the appearance reported about ABp Herft’s memory only working when external evidence was present has certainly not looked good. We must remember that the harrowing evidence of abused individuals is but raw material for this Royal Commission. Evidence of criminal assaults are rightly referred to the police under existing law. The Royal Commission is primarily concerned with Institutional Responses and I note that hearings resume tomorrow (17/03/17) and concern Anglican Church authorities. From the awaited Royal Commission findings we might reasonably expect that the criminal code will be expanded to include at least some of the institutional behaviours still to be fully exposed. Lucky for those who get to retire early or die before justice catches up with them.

    1. richiejs

      Well said Geoff Fletcher… thank you.


  3. Geoff Fletcher

    I did a quick search of the blog re “Herft” and could find no mention of now “Mr” Herft having been defrocked in Dec 2021, although he failed to attend the Episcopal Standards Board inquiry. Perhaps his now foregone church pension might go some way to offsetting that near $0.5M legal bill for his representation at the Royal Commission – and perhaps THAT only after some reparations are made first to affected victims. Not quite the offering of reparation that I hinted at above, but it’s something.

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