Sunday, July 12, 2009

Episcopal commission to probe bishop

From Religious Intelligence-

An Episcopal Standards Commission has been convened to investigate complaints of misconduct lodged by the clergy of the Diocese of Ballarat against their Bishop, Michael Hough.

On July 2, Michael Shand QC, chancellor of the Dioceses of Ballarat and Melbourne told the Ballarat synod that 13 priests, along with a number of lay leaders and retired clergy had requested an investigation of the bishop by Episcopal Standards Commission.

The rural Australian diocese northwest of Melbourne is one of Australia’s smallest, with 22 congregations and 2,000 active members.

Under Australian canon law details of the complaint are not to be disclosed while the investigation is underway. Last year the parties signed a confidentiality agreement before entering into mediation talks on Dec 2-3 in Melbourne. The talks proved unsuccessful, Mr Shand later told the diocesan council, as did the private ministrations of the Primate of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane.

However, members of the diocese last year told Religious Intelligence the disputes centred round the bishop’s “prickly” management style and his pastoral skills, and were unrelated to the wider disputes over doctrine and discipline within the Anglican Communion.

The Special Tribunal Canon passed at the 2007 General Synod enumerates crimes for which a bishop may be investigated. Breaches of faith, ritual or ceremony, drunkenness, failure to honour lawful debts, unchastity, violation of the constitution, canons and ordinances of the Anglican Church of Australia and violation of a bishop’s consecrations vows are grounds for review.

More here-

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