Anglican Church in Australia 'deeply ashamed' about child abuse

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual AbuseJustice Peter McClellan, chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, speaks during a hearing on the Anglican church sex abuse case in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

The Anglican Church in Australia says it is 'deeply ashamed' about child abuse within its ranks. Between 1980 and 2015 there were 1,082 complaints of abuse, stretching across 22 of the 23 dioceses in the country.

ABC reports that only 25 per cent of those who complained had received an apology from the Church.

The revelations come from the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse which is investigating several large institutions in Australia.

General Secretary of the General Synod Anne Hywood said: 'We are appalled at the stark presentation of the number of abusers and those they harmed.' Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, said, 'We are deeply ashamed of the many ways in which we have let down survivors, both in the way we have acted and the way we have failed to act.'

Yesterday it emerged that the Bishop of Newcastle, Greg Thompson, was resigning because of the impact on his health of the scandal. He had spent many years trying to get the Church to take the issue more seriously. As we reported yesterday, he has been ostracised by some of his parishioners after he told the country's child abuse Royal Commission how the Church hierarchy protected abusers for decades.

'When I started this journey to right the wrongs of child abuse in the diocese I didn't expect to be in this position, nor did I expect to uncover systemic practices that have enabled the horrendous crimes against children,' he said in his announcement that he would step down.

'The decision to resign was not an easy one, it weighed heavily on my heart. However, I must place the wellbeing of my family and my health above my job.'

The scale of the abuse may have been even higher than reported, as one of the lawyers at the royal commission, Gail Furness said: 'Many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse externally or to the institution in which the abuse occurred.'