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Dr Hollingworth announces he is returning his Permission to Officiate

12 May 2023


Dr Peter Hollingworth

Dr Peter Hollingworth

THE former Archbishop of Brisbane and one-time Governor-General of Australia, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Hollingworth, is returning his Permission to Officiate (PTO) in the diocese of Melbourne.

The recent finding of an inquiry by the diocese’s Professional Standards Board into Dr Hollingworth’s fitness for ministry permitted him to continue to hold the PTO, despite the upholding of seven of ten allegations of misconduct brought against him. The allegations related to claims that he mishandled sexual abuse matters when he was Archbishop of Brisbane between 1989 and 2001 (News, 26 October 2018). The Board required him to apologise to victims and accept a reprimand from Dr Freier.

In a statement released on Friday, Dr Hollingworth said that he had returned his PTO because he was concerned that his “continuing to exercise priestly functions as a bishop is a cause of pain to survivors”. He said that he wanted to end distress to them, and division within the Church.

He said that, as Archbishop of Brisbane, he had been “ill-equipped to deal with the child abuse issue, and, like some other churchpeople, was too defensive of the Church on the advice of lawyers and insurers. I say that as a matter of context, not as an excuse. I have lived with my failures every day since.”

Earlier this week, the Australian Primate, the Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Revd Geoffrey Smith, said that it would be a “reasonable thing” for Dr Hollingworth to resign his Orders (News, 12 May), for the sake of sexual-abuse victims and the reputation of the Church. He questioned why Dr Hollingworth continued to have permission to officiate.

A recent inquiry ruled that Dr Hollingworth was fit to continue in Holy Orders, however (News, 28 April).

Anglicans in Melbourne had been preparing a petition calling for the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, to remove Dr Hollingworth’s PTO.

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