THE current Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt Revd Richard Condie, has begun a disciplinary investigation into a retired bishop of the see, the Rt Revd Philip Newell, in response to a report issued by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The report, on the response of the Church of England Boys’ Society (CEBS) and several dioceses, including Tasmania, to allegations of child sexual abuse, criticised Bishop Newell for failing to take action after complaints against senior clergy (News, 5 February 2016).
The report notes that Bishop Newell, who is 87, and retired in 2000 after 18 years as diocesan bishop, took no action against a senior priest of the diocese, Louis Daniels, despite three boys’ making separate complaints in 1987. Two years later, he appointed Daniels an archdeacon, on the basis that he “amend his life”. In 1993, Daniels was appointed chairman of the General Synod Youth Commission.
The Royal Commission’s report comments: “In view of the fact that Bishop Newell was aware that three separate boys had complained, it is difficult to understand how he could have been assured that the conduct would not be repeated.”
Daniels, who was closely involved with CEBS at both the diocesan and national levels, had previously been told to amend his life in the early 1980s, after separate allegations; Bishop Newell had been informed of this, the report states. Daniels remained involved in CEBS, however, until his resignation from all church offices in 1994, after complaints were made by victims to the police. In 1999, and again in 2004, Daniels was sentenced to prison terms for multiple counts of sexual abuse, to which he pleaded guilty. In 2002, he was deposed from Holy Orders.
Bishop Condie said that the diocese would be “relying heavily on the royal commission work” in investigating Bishop Newell. “Under our church laws, there are a number of ways Bishop Newell can be disciplined: either by a letter of admonition, a permanent ban from ministry, through to deposition of Holy Orders”, he said.