Australian church apologises for cover-up as nine are arrested in child-sex inquiry

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The Independent Online

The Anglican Church in Australia has been engulfed by a child sex abuse scandal that has caused the resignation of the Archbishop of Adelaide and prompted the church to apologise for covering up the abuse for half a century.

The Anglican Church in Australia has been engulfed by a child sex abuse scandal that has caused the resignation of the Archbishop of Adelaide and prompted the church to apologise for covering up the abuse for half a century.

Nine people, including five former priests and youth workers, have been arrested in recent days by a police task force which has uncovered more than 200 individual complaints of abuse since it was set up last year. A 59-year-old former Anglican minister appeared in court in Adelaide, South Australia, yesterday after being extradited from Queensland.

On Sunday, Anglican congregations in Adelaide - known as the "city of churches" - were read a statement from pulpits apologising "for the shameful way we actively worked against and discouraged those who came to us and reported abuse".

The statement by the Adelaide Synod added: "We are ashamed to have to acknowledge that we only took notice when survivors of abuse became a threat to us."

Archbishop Ian George resigned 11 days ago after being discredited by an inquiry he initiated into the church's handling of allegations of sexual abuse. The inquiry, which reported last month, found that the church had protected itself at the expense of victims.

Police are investigating 60 more alleged abusers, including the Rev John Mountford, the former chaplain of a boys' school who was dismissed in 1992 for abusing a pupil. He was told by an Anglican "in authority" to leave the country to avoid prosecution, according to the report. Dr George was among those who met him the day before he left.

The former minister who appeared in court yesterday, who cannot be named, faced four charges of indecent assault and one of buggery allegedly committed against a 12-year-old between 1970 and 1975.

Others arrested by police around the country include a former Anglican minister who allegedly assaulted four teenagers between 1973 and 2000, two former leaders of the Church of England Boys Society, two former Salvation Army officers and a former Anglican church foster carer.

The Anglican church in the state of South Australia, of which Adelaide is the capital, said that it expected more arrests. Archdeacon John Collas, who is administering the diocese until a new archbishop is appointed next year, said: "I don't believe this is the end of it. There will be more."

The inquiry report found that the church had failed to address allegations of child abuse dating back to 1952. It said there was no effective system in place to ensure that people who left a parish after being convicted or suspected of abuse were not employed once again as priests.

The Adelaide scandal follows the resignation last year of the Australian governor general, Peter Hollingworth, after revelations that he failed to act against known paedophiles in the church while he was an Anglican bishop in the 1990s.

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