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Archbishop admits he let sex victims down

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 By Rebekah Ison

One of the country's most senior Anglicans has acknowledged he let down child sexual abuse victims at his former NSW diocese and says he hopes the church has been "woken up" by the royal commission.

Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft on Tuesday finished giving evidence at hearings into how the Newcastle diocese, which he headed between 1993 and 2005, handled allegations of abuse.

In a statement at the end of his testimony, the archbishop thanked the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for holding him "personally accountable".

"I have ... let them down badly, let down survivors in ways that remorse itself is a very poor emotion to even express," he said on Tuesday.

"I hope that the church in this diocese and the church across the Australian continent will be one that has not only woken up ... but become more and more transparent and accountable."

During his evidence, Archbishop Herft has admitted to failings in dealing with allegations and that he became much more sensitive to the need to make reports to police later on in his tenure.

He said abuse allegedly perpetrated by the second most senior priest in the diocese, Newcastle Cathedral dean Graeme Lawrence, had "shocked him deeply" and changed how he viewed the priesthood.

"I've come to a much more realistic view, I think, of the priesthood and about those who serve in the priesthood," he said.

The royal commission also heard from lawyer and former diocese chancellor Paul Rosser QC who represented numerous alleged offenders from within the church.

The commission heard that one of former youth worker James (Jim) Brown's 20 male victims walked out of court while he was being cross examined by Mr Rosser.

Mr Rosser accepted that it was certainly "no fun" being cross examined and witnesses were questioned from the perspective they were telling "wicked lies".

Hearings into the Newcastle diocese will restart in November, with continuing evidence from former diocesan solicitor Robert Caddies, who has questioned why it took current Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson 40 years to go public about his own alleged abuse.

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