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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Bishops urge Hollingworth to quit
Peter Hollingworth
Polls suggest most Australians want Mr Hollingworth to go

Three Australian Anglican bishops have publicly urged Governor-General Peter Hollingworth to resign.

The bishops have joined a growing band of Australians - including government and opposition politicians, child welfare groups and a majority of the Australian public - who want Mr Hollingworth to quit for mishandling a series of sex abuse cases while he was the Archbishop of Brisbane in the 1990s.

A report published last week said he committed a "grave error of judgment" by allowing a known paedophile to continue working as a priest.

Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft said on Wednesday: "If I was in his shoes, I'd feel the time has come to move on.

"It's difficult to be what the governor-general has been in the past, a conscience of the nation, when the office has had so many questions attached to it," he told an Australian radio station.

The Bishop of Armidale, Peter Brain, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, also urged Mr Hollingworth to step down.

"He hasn't got much choice," said Mr Brain. "The more I've thought about it the more I think he should resign," he told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Howard's support

But Mr Hollingworth has yet to be abandoned by Prime Minister John Howard.

The post of governor-general - Queen Elizabeth's representative in Australia - is decided by the Queen on the prime minister's recommendation.

After meeting the Queen during a visit to London, Mr Howard said that there was nothing to "warrant or support a recommendation from me to the Queen that (Mr Hollingworth's) appointment be terminated".

The Governor-General has also retained the support of some of the Australian Government.

"I don't believe that it is right and proper to hound someone from office for an error of judgment," said Employment Minister Tony Abbott, a prominent monarchist.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock also refused to join the bandwagon condemning Mr Hollingworth.

"I think it's important to understand that in the context of Christian teachings, forgiveness plays a very important part and one ought to not be surprised that in his judgment the governor-general saw a role for that," he told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

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