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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Australian Church 'sorry' for abuse
Christian symbolism
The report said the Church was "uncaring" towards victims
One of Australia's most senior Anglican churchmen has apologised for the way his diocese handled sexual abuse complaints over the past 50 years.

Adelaide's Archbishop Ian George said his diocese was "devastated" by the findings of an independent inquiry into its response to some 200 claims.

The inquiry said the "Church's attitude was uncaring towards victims" and also undermined the character of the abused.

On Monday, the report was tabled in the state parliament of South Australia.

"The Church is devastated that people in its care have been so profoundly affected by people in trust, by direct abuse or poor process," Archbishop George said.

"We are ashamed," he said.

'Protecting Church at all costs'

The inquiry began when two Anglican clergymen said a network of paedophiles had been operating within the Church for years.

A police task force subsequently found 143 victims of child sex abuse linked to the Church and 58 possible offenders.

Archbishop George said the Church had been advised by police that no current clergy or lay officers were under scrutiny.

The inquiry, commissioned by the Church and led by a former supreme court judge, looked into the Church's handling of sexual abuse against Anglican clergy and lay people in South Australia state over the past 50 years.

It said the Church's attitude towards victims "at times had the result of undermining the character of victims and their families".

The inquiry also said the Adelaide diocese was "more concerned with legal and insurance responsibilities than the healing of those who had been abused" and of "protecting the Church at all costs".

The archbishop said the Church acknowledged that this had been the case in some instances.

Earlier this month, a former governor-general of Australia, Dr Peter Hollingworth, admitted he took too long to comprehend the effects of child abuse while he was the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane.

Dr Hollingworth resigned his vice-regal office a year ago amid allegations that he had ignored the issue.

Howard backs Hollingworth's resignation
26 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hollingworth: 'I got it wrong'
28 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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