Priest 'threatens' Ballarat's Anglican bishop

By Nick Higgins
Updated November 2 2012 - 9:59am, first published June 20 2008 - 3:22pm

THE Ballarat Anglican bishop has defended himself in a passionate letter against what he described as "outrageous action" by a priest whom he has declined to name.Yesterday The Courier received a copy of the letter Bishop Michael Hough circulated among the Ballarat Diocese priests.Bishop Hough is now overseas on study leave and to attend the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, a gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world where issues affecting the church are discussed.In the letter dated June 17, Bishop Hough says he was "threatened" 24-hours before his departure not to return to the diocese.He said the threat came from a priest claiming to represent the clergy and laity of the diocese."On their behalf (though no names were divulged) he threatened me by demanding that while I was in England for the Lambeth Conference, I was to find a job over there and not return to the Diocese (his exact words)."That priest said that his group believed that I did not have the confidence of the clergy and laity of the Diocese and should I return they would initiate action through various professional bodies to force me to resign. "He threatened me by saying that should I return as Bishop, I would be subjecting the Diocese to `public scandal' as accusations would be made against the way I carry out my ministry as Bishop. "It would be better for the Diocese that I not return."In the letter Bishop Hough called the threat an "outrageous" action against the Diocese."I have since written a letter to the priest and his alleged group of supporters inviting them to put their concerns in writing and to arrange to meet with me on my return," Bishop Hough wrote."I would be happy to address, in an appropriate and professional manner, any issues they may have."Bishop Hough said the Vicar General had been informed of the priest's allegations and was also willing to engage in any subsequent discussions.

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