BALLARAT'S Anglican Bishop has taken leave and may step down from his post, according to a media report. The Age reported this week that Bishop Michael Hough had taken sick leave for a month.While he is away, Bishop Hough has appointed a Melbourne assistant bishop, Philip Huggins, as vicar-general of the diocese.The development comes less than two weeks before the Anglican diocesan synod in Portland.The Anglican Church's Episcopal Standards Commission (ESC) has been investigating complaints of misconduct against Bishop Hough since 2008 but is yet to deliver its findings.Thirteen diocesan clergy, and other former clergy and senior lay people have lodged complaints against the bishop.Under church law, complaints against bishops are investigated by the ESC. It can then lay charges, which would be heard by the church's Special Tribunal.Last month, a group of disgruntled Anglicans announced they would table a petition at the June 19 synod calling for the bishop to resign. The Age report said the petition could have as many as 700 signatures.Spokesman for the group, Euan Thompson, last month told The Courier the reasons for the resignation call were:* Many laity were leaving the church;* An ongoing exodus of good priests from the diocese; and* The number of parishes without a priest.A statement from the diocese at the time said it was inappropriate to comment publicly on the matter, which was rightly addressed from the floor of the synod. No comment was available from the diocesan office yesterday.