THE Archbishop of Perth, the Most Revd Roger Herft, will leave office a year before his planned retirement, vacating the see in July next year.
Archbishop Herft has not returned to duty since he stood down in October while the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was hearing evidence concerning his former diocese of Newcastle, New South Wales (News, 14 October). Archbishop Herft was Bishop of Newcastle from 1993 until his translation to Perth in 2005.
He will not return to office before he retires, but take accrued leave.
In September, he told a Royal Commission hearing in Newcastle that he had let people down badly in the light of the “sacred trust that the people of this region placed upon me” (News, 2 September). He admitted to failing to deal with some allegations of abuse against both clergy and lay church workers.
He also admitted failing to inform the police after he was told on several occasions that senior clergy had sexually abused children, a possible infringement of NSW law.
Several days of evidence revealed a long-running saga of clerical abuse in the diocese which included the former cathedral dean, who was subsequently unfrocked. Witnesses claimed that the now closed diocesan theological college, St John’s, Morpeth, was a centre of paedophile activity.
At the end of his testimony, Archbishop Herft apologised to the people of Newcastle, and thanked the Royal Commission for holding him “personally accountable”. He admitted to having had an unrealistically high view of clergy, which he had now had to question.
Sri Lankan-born, Archbishop Herft was Bishop of Waikato & Taranaki, New Zealand, before his translation to Perth.
The diocesan administrator, the Rt Revd Kate Wilmot, will convene the elected committee to appoint a successor early next year.