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Australian archdiocese denies ignoring sex-abuse complaint by Anglican archbishop

Catholic World News - September 12, 2011

The Archdiocese of Adelaide, Australia, has denied delaying its response to a sex-abuse complaint by Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth—although the Melbourne archdiocese has already concluded its investigation of the same complaint and offered the Anglican leader an apology and financial compensation.

Archbishop Hepworth, the head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, has revealed that he was molested repeatedly while he was a Catholic seminarian, by two priests and a fellow student. Two of his accused attackers are now deceased; the third remains a priest in active ministry in the Adelaide archdiocese.

A spokesman acknowledged that the Adelaide archdiocese had been aware of the Hepworth complaints since 2007, but said that Church officials had taken no action because Archbishop Hepworth himself “was ready to formalize his complaints.” The Anglican leader only made that decision this year, the archdiocese said, and now an investigation “has progressed in an orderly way.”

Archbishop Hepworth said that the statement from the Adelaide archdiocese was “ludicrous.” He had written a detailed letter in 2008, he disclosed, “which I understood to be a complaint and which the archdiocese of Melbourne understood to be a complaint and acted on.”

An outspoken Australian lawmaker, Senator Nick Xenophon, has warned that if the Adelaide archdiocese does not suspend the priest who reportedly raped the future Anglican archbishop, he will make that priest’s identity public, naming him in an address before parliament on September 13.

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