Peter Slipper's ambition to serve as a parish priest could still be realised, despite the sex and fraud scandals engulfing him, the leader of Australia's Traditional Anglican Communion affirmed yesterday, according to a story in The Australian.
The independent MP, who has stood aside as Speaker while allegations of abusing public entitlements are tested, is already an ordained priest in Australia's breakaway conservative Anglican movement and acts as "chancellor" -- a senior legal adviser -- to primate John Hepworth and his pro-Rome synod.
Speaking from Adelaide, Archbishop Hepworth yesterday reaffirmed he would ensure that Mr Slipper stood aside from that role until allegations of sexual harassment were resolved.
But he also described Mr Slipper as a devout Christian of "enormous ability" and said he was welcome to train for a public role in the church, including that of parish priest, if he was cleared of the complaint.
"He and I have discussed his becoming a parish priest, but I judged it appropriate that he shouldn't have a public ministry while he is in the parliament," he told The Australian.
"When he leaves the parliament, one way or another, if he is prepared to undertake the necessary additional training and preparation then that would be appropriate if he wished to take a public role."
Archbishop Hepworth said he was more concerned about the allegations of sexual misconduct than the misuse of public funds, since they go to questions of "moral failings".
He said he had personally trained Mr Slipper ahead of his ordination as an Anglican Catholic priest - permitting him to lead mass in private - and had come to recognise him as a strong and consistent campaigner on conservative moral issues who stood apart from the bulk of "monochrome" political figures.
FULL STORY Peter could still be parish priest: primate (Australian)