Everyone who lives in Newcastle and the Hunter knows the once-iconic Anglican Cathedral.
The imposing building dominates the Newcastle skyline on its perch right up there on the hill above the city.
The Newcastle Anglican Cathedral is the biggest blight on the Newcastle region – a constant, haunting reminder of the tragedy the Newcastle community has suffered at the hands of this very institution.
The Cathedral is built on Newcastle’s very best piece of real estate.
There’s no better view of the beautiful harbour and much-loved beaches.
The Cathedral is even floodlit at night – no one can escape the commanding symbol of secrecy and conspiracy.
So why does the City of Newcastle allow the Cathedral to dominate our skyline?
It’s time for Newcastle to stand together as a community and say what they really think.
It’s time for the Cathedral to go.
It’s not that this building is an ugly piece of architecture. The structure itself is impressive.
We all know what the Cathedral means to hundreds of people.
It’s a daily reminder to the City of Newcastle – a chilling symbol of the place where paedophile clergy and their perverted friends abused children in complete secrecy, never facing justice.
The Child Abuse Royal Commission has uncovered the gross injustice and systematic criminal behaviour of religious institutions in the Hunter region.
Sections of the community- including myself and others in the legal profession suspected this culturally entrenched practice. Now, finally, we have all the explicit proof we need to substantiate all of our greatest fears.
The Royal Commission recently released statistics showing that almost 1100 people who spoke to Commissioners alleged they were sexually abused as children in Anglican Church institutions between 1980 and 2015.
This Sydney Morning Herald article points to 570 alleged perpetrators identified in the report – and 247 of these alleged perpetrators were ordained clergy.
And so much of the appalling abuse suffered at the hands of Anglican clergy happened in the Newcastle and Hunter region.
In November last year, former Anglican bishop of Newcastle, Greg Thompson explained the significance of the problems in the Newcastle Anglican Church in a hearing with the Royal Commission.
“It’s the case that there has been a very significant problem with child sexual abuse in the diocese of Newcastle?” asked counsel assisting the commission, Naomi Sharp.
“Systemic over many decades,” came Bishop Thompson’s chilling but honest reply.
This is how Bishop Thompson described the Newcastle Anglican Church to the ABC’s 7.30 report late last year:
“What’s particularly distinctive about the story of abuse in this (the Newcastle) diocese is the habituated protection of perpetrators and the undermining of survivors as they came forward. It was like a religious protection racket.”
How can Novocastrians allow the city’s finest real estate to sit in the hands of this institution characterised by one of its own as a ‘protection racket’ for sexually abusive paedophiles?
The Anglican Cathedral still stands above Newcastle, casting a foreboding shadow the city. This beacon causes such heartache to those directly affected by the unfathomable actions perpetrated by so many within the Anglican Church.
Now it’s time to be rid of it.
The City of Newcastle doesn’t deserve to be perpetually reminded of such a dark and disgraceful chapter of the city’s history.
Instead of looking up to the hill at night to be confronted by a haunting reminder of child abuse, we should reclaim this prime real estate and replace the Cathedral with a landmark for the community to be proud of.
Let’s make the hilltop a place of happiness again. Let’s create a place for everyone to enjoy. Let’s create a symbol of a new beginning for Newcastle to inject some pride and prosperity.
I propose that the Anglican Church gifts the whole Cathedral site to the city of Newcastle in trust for its citizens in perpetuity for all time.
I propose the Church donates the land to the City for the Cathedral to be demolished by public implosion on a weekend or public holiday.
Everyone should be invited to witness the Cathedral crumbling down in a cloud of dust and bricks to give the community a sign of better things to come.
We can hold a public competition to design a new complex for the site.
There are so many positive possibilities.
Imagine a giant ferris wheel soaring over the best view of the city. The Eye of the Hunter?
Or maybe a collection of entertainment venues and facilities for families to enjoy?
What about gondola lifts or a cable-car stretching from the top of the hill to Stockton over the harbour to the north and stretching over Bar Beach to the south?
Even an extension of the beautiful King Edward Park would give the community a proud alternative to the dark shadow of the Newcastle Anglican Cathedral.
Novocastrians are a proud, strong and united bunch.
The Newcastle community needs to reclaim the city’s grandest view from the institution who has inflicted so much pain and suffering on our families, friends and neighbours.
If you or your loved ones have been affected by the horrific atrocities committed by members of the Anglican Church or any other religious institution – refer to our Support Services list for ongoing support.
Image Source: UON