NEWCASTLE Anglican bishop administrator Peter Stuart expressed his ‘‘deep regret’’ to the royal commission over the diocese’s lack of knowledge about two priests, in a letter he wrote earlier this month.
The diocese was unaware of ‘‘the facts, matters and circumstances’’ relating to convicted child sex offender priest Allan Kitchingman, and Canon Campbell Brown, until the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, Bishop Stuart wrote in a letter on November 14 and tendered as evidence to the commission.
The commission is investigating the Anglican church's response to child sex allegations relating to its North Coast Children's Home at Lismore. The inquiry has heard evidence about the two priests who worked at the home and later moved to Newcastle diocese.
Reverend Kitchingman was jailed in 2002 for sexually assaulting a boy, 13, at North Coast Children’s Home at Lismore in the 1970s.
Evidence before the commission includes that in 2005 former children’s home resident Tommy Campion alleged Canon Brown sexually abused him at the home.
In a letter to Bishop Stuart on November 11, general counsel to the royal commission Roderick Best advised that evidence showed the Newcastle diocese did not take any disciplinary proceedings against Mr Kitchingman after 2002 or Canon Brown after 2005.
Mr Kitchingman’s name continued to appear on the diocese’s list of clergy during his 2002 court case, while in jail, and until 2007.
Canon Brown’s name was on the list of Newcastle clergy in 2007 and is on the Diocese of Bathurst’s 2013 list.
In a letter in June this year to the Bishop of Bathurst, which opened with ‘‘Greetings from Newcastle!’’ Canon Brown asked that his authority to officiate as a priest be removed because he was retired.
‘‘My wife and I are part of the cathedral community and enjoy being together ‘in the pews’ each Sunday and participating in the activities of the cathedral parish,’’ Canon Brown wrote.
In his letter to Mr Best on November 14, Bishop Stuart wrote that both men’s names had since been added to the Anglican Church’s national register.
The diocese had ‘‘not yet entered’’ into a memorandum of understanding with Mr Kitchingman about his attendance at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, in line with Church policy.
The Diocesan Council had only passed a safety policy in September this year, Bishop Stuart wrote.
‘‘On 25 October, I personally directed the Dean of the Cathedral to apply the safety policy to Mr Kitchingman,’’ he added.