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Archdeacon sends a message

Thursday 3 September 2015 | Published in Regional


GOSFORD – The Anglican Bishop of Newcastle has defended a priest over a sign outside a Gosford church that read, ‘Hell exists and it’s on Nauru’.

The messages on the signboard outside the church on the NSW Central Coast, of which Father Rod Bower is archdeacon, have taken aim at detention centre operator Transfield on more than one occasion.

Another read “Hesta divests Transfield. Good on ya!” – a reference to a superannuation fund’s decision to divest its Transfield shares.

Bishop Greg Thompson has agreed to meet Transfield chairwoman Diane Smith-Gander to discuss her concerns about the signs, but said he supported Father Bower.

“They are serious questions of our capacity to be both compassionate and responsive to the great need across our region,” he said.

“But, also, as we’re seeing in Europe, the tidal wave of humanity fleeing the wars in which we are participating in, and I think we have a responsibility in our own country to be compassionate.”

Bishop Thompson said he was particularly worried about children in detention.

“I sought information from Transfield in relation to these matters, and the chair sought to meet with me and speak about these important matters on Manus and Nauru islands,” he said.

Father Bower said he was bewildered by Transfield’s reaction and believed it was an attempt to gag him.

“Well, there’s billions of dollars at stake here,” he said.

“It’s a very large contract of taxpayers’ money being poured into the oppression of human beings, so whenever there’s a lot of money involved, there’s a lot at stake, and yes, that’s what they would be trying to do.”

Father Bower appears to also have a message for governments, on Tuesday tweeting a photo of the message board that said: “Want better coverage, be a better government”.