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Newcastle bishop accused of misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, May 19, 2011 May 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Brian Farran

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Misconduct charges have been leveled against the Bishop of Newcastle (Australia) for his handling of the disciplinary proceedings against clergy found by the diocesan Professional Standards Board to have engaged in misconduct.

On May 12 nine complaints were lodged with the office of the General Synod in Sydney against Bishop Brian Farran.  The charges will now be passed to the Episcopal Standards Commission for review.  If the commission finds that a prima facie case exists, the complaint will then be forwarded to the church’s Special Tribunal for adjudication.

Under canon law, the charges and the commission’s proceedings are not to be made public.  At the conclusion of its investigation, which could take up to a year, the commission will file a formal public complaint against the accused, or report that the charges were unproven.

Press reports from Newcastle along with sources in the diocese tell The Church of England Newspaper center around the bishop’s handling of the divisions within the cathedral that led to his dismissal of a warden, and his oversight of the diocesan professional standards commission.

On Dec 15, the diocesan professional standards commission held that the former cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Graeme Lawrence and his partner—church organist Gregory Goyette—had engaged in sexual relations with a 17 year old boy at a church camp in 1984.  A second priest, the Rev. Graeme Sturt was found to have observed the incident, but did not report the abuse.

The board recommended Dean Lawrence and Mr. Sturt be defrocked and Mr. Goyette prevented from working in the church.  The two clergyman responded by filing suit against the board in civil court, saying its proceedings were arbitrary and capricious.  They have denied all charges and the dispute is set for hearing later this month.

In a statement released on May 12, Bishop Farran said that it was “within the rights of those who feel aggrieved” to file a complaint.  He added that he would “welcome the transparency that this process will afford.”

“As previously stated, I wish to make it clear that I am very aware of the concerns of some members of the Cathedral community and I wish to assure everyone involved that I continue to take these concerns seriously,” the bishop said.

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