July 10, 2005

Primed for change

The Australian

Andrew West
July 11, 2005
IF you saw Phillip Aspinall in the street - without his purple shirtfront and pectoral cross, but with his unkempt hair, squinting eyes and glasses - you might mistake him for a computer programmer.

That's because Archbishop Aspinall began his working life tapping in data for the Tasmanian education department. He didn't last long, so strong wasthe lure of religious life. Two decades later, he is the new leader of Australia's four million Anglicans, elected on Saturday as primate of the Australian church.

At 45, he is the youngest man to have held the job, a factor that does not surprise his old friend Robert Forsyth, the Anglican bishop of South Sydney. "He has a gravity and presence that belies his age," says Forsyth, as if to hint that Aspinall has always been prematurely middle-aged.

The Australian public better knows Aspinall, as the man who in effect brought down former governor-general Peter Hollingworth in 2003. It was Aspinall, then still a relatively new prelate of Brisbane, who set up an official inquiry into the church's handling of sexual abuse allegations, including during the period when Hollingworth was archbishop.

The inquiry's finding that Hollingworth had allowed a confessed pedophile priest, John Elliot, to remain in the ministry so long as he avoided contact with children, ended Hollingworth's vice-regal career.

Posted by kshaw at July 10, 2005 01:29 PM