Bishops Behaving Badly?

December 20, 2010

A few days ago this story turned up on one of  my Google Alerts :

ADELAIDE, Australia, Dec. 12 (UPI) — The head of the Anglican Church of Australia has officially approved the removal of a bishop accused of being a bully, church officials said Monday.

The charges against the bishop, Ross Davies of Murray Diocese, in South Australia, were based on complaints from several lay parishioners in the diocese;  also included was the specific matter of  “protecting an archdeacon accused of sexual misconduct,” which I’m surprised got buried in the second paragraph.

Anyway, Bishop Davies is out, though the authorities “could not confirm reports he had now joined the Catholic Church.” Which would be  just what the Catholic Church needs right now.

That was vaguely on my mind when today I saw this item – and I mistakenly thought at first it was about the same person:

A BITTER Anglican Bishop made a defiant stand during his final homily in Ballarat on Saturday, smashing a chalice with a hammer.

Only after a while did it dawn on me that this was another bishop, in a different province: Michael Hough, of Ballarat Diocese  in Victoria. (Hey, I’m from NYC; everyplace else is just “out of town.” Where birds live instead of pigeons.)

There was no hint of sexual irregularity or cover-up in the Hough story, just a strong-willed visionary leader who failed to grasp that a leader needs followers. I certainly can’t blame him for wanting to shake things up, change the paradigm, what with churches aging and dwindling all over the place; but if the change is too top-down and looks like just an ego trip, it isn’t likely to work.

I am so glad my church has congregational polity!

UPDATE from Ballarat, via The Age:

Controversial Ballarat bishop sacks deputy as his last official act

Barney Zwartz

December 22, 2010

BALLARAT Anglican Bishop Michael Hough, forced to resign over complaints of bullying, did not go quietly on Monday.

The controversial bishop’s last act was to sack his vicar-general – the man who will run the diocese until a bishop is elected – and install his staunchest supporter, retired priest Arthur Savage.

Some guys just don’t go gently…

12/28/10: since it seems people are still somehow finding this post and reading it,  I had best put up another UPDATE, from The Courier:

Ballarat bishop’s dismissal of vicar-general overturned

KIM QUINLAN

23 Dec, 2010 01:00 AM

BISHOP Michael Hough’s last act as head of the Ballarat diocese – the sacking of his vicar-general – has been overturned by the Archbishop of Melbourne.

On Monday, Bishop Hough, who resigned earlier this year after complaints of bullying, sacked Melbourne Assistant Bishop Philip Huggins, the man who would run the diocese until the election of a new bishop….

In his letter, the Archbishop of Melbourne said the replacing of the vicar-general had not been discussed with him and he was only notified of the situation late Monday.

“There are very real doubts whether the instruments of appointment signed … were valid and effective and, in the case of the Reverend Arthur Savage, whether the instrument was effective to appoint him as the Administrator of the Diocese…”

He stressed Bishop Huggins’ appointment to the Ballarat diocese would continue until a new bishop could be appointed.

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