Anglican diocese vows to do what's legally required in the face of $25m debt

BISHOP Ian Palmer says the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst will follow the law as it faces a $25 million debt.

The Anglican leader said the diocese would do what it was legally required to do and use its “best endeavours” to repay funds borrowed from the Commonwealth Bank.

But the diocese plans to defend itself in the courts against the lender’s efforts to force it to sell off assets until the outstanding sum is repaid.

The bishop said last week the diocese did not think the demands of the bank were reasonable and the diocese had a duty to defend properties and gifts given to it in trust.

He maintained that position on Thursday while on a visit to Dubbo.

“We’re preparing a defence, yes, because the issue is are we at liberty to change the purpose of trust assets in order to pay an unrelated party?” he said.

“I have always maintained that we will do what we are legally asked to do, and that we would use our best endeavours to repay what we borrowed and that is the nub of the issue. “

At the weekend the bishop asked all parishes to come up with cash to fund an appeal against the bank’s court order.

The bishop said the diocese was trying to protect more than buildings.

“If we had to sell rectories, we would cease to be able to house a clergyperson in the area,” he said.

“And an important thing about a rectory is that it is a public building.

“All sorts of people come to that place in different circumstances of life, and there they’re met with warmth and a welcome, and they're met with opportunity for help and sustenance.”