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Catholic Archbishops speak of G-G's "conflicted" position

In the wake of the resignation of Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, the Archbishops of Brisbane and Sydney have spoken separately of the problematic dimension of his holding the office.

Describing Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby as a "close friend" of the former Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Hollingworth, ABC Radio's PM ran an interview in which Bathersby admitted he was concerned at the time of the appointment.

Bathersby said: "It was always seen that tension would arise between the spiritual role and the secular role and sometimes it's very, very difficult to bring those two offices together in harmony."

Archbishop Bathersby said the "very positive side of his whole character is forgotten in this present situation".

"Because I think that mistakes were made for sure but again 10 years ago they were mistakes that were probably being made by a number of people before adequate processes were put in place," he said.

Meanwhile Sydney's Archbishop George Pell said yesterday that no church leader should ever be appointed governor-general because it would muddy the waters between church and state.

Pell said he believed Peter Hollingworth had done the right thing by stepping down as governor-general.

"I think even in a just war, it's not appropriate, for example, for an archbishop to be farewelling our troops," he said. "The separation of church and state in Australia is a blessing and we should preserve it."

But Dr Pell said he did not believe any long-term damage had been done to the office of governor-general by the crisis.

ABC PM/The Australian

Pell urges clear separation of church and state (ABC)
G-G Crisis (Sydney Morning Herald)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia | Statement by the Governor-General: Dr Hollingworth announces intention to resign as Governor-General

27 May 2003