A FORMER Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Peter Hollingworth, has apologised to survivors of sexual abuse for the Church’s failure to deal appropriately with their complaints.
Appearing as a witness at the Brisbane hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Dr Hollingworth said that he “deeply regretted” that he did not “press harder” to have the complaints against two staff members of a church school investigated “more rigorously”.
Dr Hollingworth was Archbishop of Brisbane 1990-2001, when he was appointed Governor-General of Australia. He stood down from that position two years later, after controversy over his handling of abuse matters in Brisbane.
He told the commission that he had “examined his conscience”, and now understood “far more about the negative and lasting impacts” of child sexual abuse and the “emotional and psychological damage inflicted on the survivors”.
Dr Hollingworth denied knowing of complaints that Gilbert Case, a former headmaster of St Paul’s School, had failed to deal with sexual-abuse allegations when he supported his appointment as executive director of the Brisbane diocese’s Anglican Schools Office in 2001. Mr Case was forced to step down from his position in 2003, after an inquiry into his conduct found that he should be sacked.
The commission heard evidence of abuse at St Paul’s School by two paedophiles; several students have told the commission that when they complained to Mr Case about the abuse, they were called liars, and nothing was done.