History repeating? Familiar charges haunt an Australian bishop

No longer in a class by himself, one bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia has joined another in being the recipient of charges of bullying and abuse.

Ross Davies, bishop of the Diocese of the Murray, has been handed charges including “emotional and verbal abuse and bullying” as well as protecting a former archdeacon, Peter Foote, who’s been off the job since being accused of sexual impropriety in 2008.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. It’s yesterday’s news for the Diocese of Ballarat‘s bishop, Michael Hough, who’s been cooling his heels since having complaints of bullying and harassment filed against him by 13 clergy and lay people in 2008. (Hough appears to be in such a corner that last year he failed to call a synod council.)

However you slice it, none of this constitutes a short-term gain for Anglicans in Australia. It does mean, however, that a certain judicial instrument of the Anglican Church of Australia called the Episcopal Standards Commission does appear to be doing its job, even if it’s doing so at a turtle’s pace. The Church’s Complaint Investigation Procedure appears to be getting a workout, so policy has hit the ground and procedure is engaged.

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  1. For information of episcopalcafe drinkers: both these bishops are Anglo Catholic Bishops with slightly different views. Bothe come from small regional dioceses. Bp davies has a close relationship with the TAC. Bp Hough’s diocese has a “concordat” with their (Roman) Catholic neighbours.

    John Sandeman

  2. Interesting, John. And what was the nature and substance of such a concordat? I’ve heard in other places of such things. For example, years ago I met a Anglican Church of Canada priest and monastic serving as a hospital chaplain who had been licensed by the local Roman bishop to distribute communion (from Roman reserved sacrament) and to anoint. It helped that the priest in question was celibate, of course, but it was still unusual. In the wake of all the more recent Roman bishops, chosen apparently for their consistency with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, that would seem virtually impossible today, or at least in North America.

    Marshall Scott

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