ADELAIDE’S Anglican archbishop resigned yesterday and apologised for his faults in dealing with child sex abuse within the church.
But the Most Reverend Ian George denied he had bowed to public pressure in leaving the post he had held for almost 13 years.
His resignation comes a year after the resignation of former governor-general Peter Hollingworth over his handling of child sex abuse while archbishop of Brisbane.
Dr George had resisted calls to resign after the release of an independent report last week into the church’s handling of up to 200 child sex abuse allegations, and claims there was a pedophile network within the Adelaide diocese.
The report was damning in its criticism, saying the church’s first priority when encountering child abuse allegations was to protect itself.
The report also found the church was uncaring towards victims and said “the possibility of the involvement of the police, at the insistence of the church, was seemingly abhorrent”.
Dr George reconsidered his position after the church’s Professional Standards Committee voted on Tuesday to ask him to stand aside.
On Thursday the Adelaide Diocesan Council voted to publicly withdraw support for Archbishop George unless he volunteered to step down.
“Archbishops do not resign from office in response to public outcry, media pressure or internal church deliberations,” Dr George said yesterday.
“Nevertheless, because of my love for the body of Christ and desire for its unity, I have decided to resign my office as Archbishop of Adelaide as from the end of today.”
Dr George, who did not appear in public yesterday, said he he was distressed “at the pain and suffering experienced by those who have been abused within the life of the church”.
“Where I have been at fault in responding to them (victims), and where the church has been faulty in its responses, I deeply apologise,” he said. “I accept my responsibility as archbishop.”
Dr George, who was to have retired this August, will be replaced as archbishop by Archdeacon John Collas. AAP
Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide Ian George.