Thinking Anglicans

Llandaff: formal complaint filed

Updated Friday

Harry Farley at Christian Today reports: Church investigates official complaints into homophobia against gay cleric.

Insiders have lodged an official complaint after a gay cleric was barred from being appointed Bishop of Llandaff.

Five members of the Church in Wales’ secretive electoral college that debates and votes for candidates have spoken of ‘deeply inappropriate’ references to Dr Jeffrey John’s homosexuality when considering his nomination, Christian Today can reveal.

In a letter to the Church’s most senior executive Simon Lloyd, the electors said the remarks against Dr John ‘prejudiced’ the process making it ‘invalid’.

A formal investigation has now been launched into the process and a legal panel chaired by a judge will decide whether to scrap the decision not to take Dr John’s nomination forward…

The exact wording of the complaint, as reported on Facebook, is as follows:

“We object to the raising at electoral college of the matter of sexuality or civil partnership status, in direct contravention of the Church in Wales’s own policy that sexuality or civil partnership status is not a bar to appointment as a Bishop.
We consider that this action was deeply inappropriate, and prejudiced the electoral college proceedings so as to render them invalid.”

The Church in Wales has issued the following statement (though not issued as a press release):

“Five members of the Electoral College, which was assembled to elect the Bishop of Llandaff in February, have now submitted a complaint to the Secretary of the Electoral College. Their complaint is in relation to certain aspects of the conduct of the College. This matter has now been referred to the Legal Sub-Committee, which is a body in the Church in Wales assembled to consider legal and governance matters.

“The responsibility of appointing the next Bishop of Llandaff has passed to the Bench of Bishops. It is too early to say whether the deliberations of the Legal Sub Committee will have any effect on the timing of an announcement.”

Update
A second formal complaint has been filed, see Second complaint over ‘abusive and derogatory’ comments against gay cleric as pressure builds on Church in Wales.

bq,, …Now four senior members from the decision-making standing committee in Llandaff have filed an official complaint after allegations of homophobic remarks against Dr John during the election process were revealed by Christian Today.

The comments were ‘abusive and derogatory, demeaning their relationship and sexuality’ and went unchecked by the body’s chair, a source told Christian Today…

…Asked about the complaint a Church spokeswoman confirmed: ‘We have received a complaint from four members of the Standing Committee of the Llandaff Diocesan Conference. The complaint is not on behalf of the Standing Committee.

‘It has been referred to the Legal Sub Committee which is a body in the Church in Wales assembled to consider legal and governance matters.

‘It is too early to say whether the deliberations of the Legal Sub Committee will have any effect on the timing of an announcement.’

There is also a discussion of all this by Philip Jones Electing the Bishop of Llandaff: Propriety and Privacy.

27
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
27 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
21 Comment authors
Janet FifeRevDaveFather DavidAndySteve Morgan Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Stanley Shaw
Guest
Stanley Shaw

It is difficult to understand how this will work. In his obfuscations on Sunday the +Swansea referred to the paucity of legal advice. Are these the people who are to be brought in to conduct the enquiry. Surely an independent team is required

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

So the appointment of the Bishop of Sheffield is now referred to an independent reviewer.

And the appointment of the Bishop of Llandaff is now the subject of a special internal inquiry.

Next up — the Bishopric of London?

Delyth
Guest
Delyth

This is very significant – and most welcome. My question is, if this complaint is being investigated, does that mean the electors of previous Electoral Colleges can complain about comments, allegations and behaviour prejudicing the outcome of former elections? If so, Bangor 2008 is ripe for investigation.

RD
Guest
RD

The whole notion of an election is that voters are free to choose for themselves. During ANY debate there will inevitably be some good arguments made and some bad arguments; we have no choice but to trust the voters to heed the good arguments and ignore the bad ones. If the voters elect the ‘wrong’ person we may privately suspect that they heeded the ‘bad’ arguments; but once we start an inquisition we’re admitting that we never believed in a free election anyway — what we really wanted was a rubber stamp to our congé d’elire. We have to have… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Looks like another case for Sir Philip Mawer, although I don’t believe his remit extends into the Principality? However, following the Pinteresque Pause of the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon on the Sunday programme on the wireless, this formal complaint surely calls for yet another Pinteresque Pause on the part of the Welsh bishops before they rush ahead and make an announcement as to the identity of the next Bishop of Llandaff. Common justice alone requires the independent investigation to be carried out prior to any further development on the part of the remaining five Welsh bishops.

Chris A
Guest
Chris A

Unless you follow the right people on Twitter you might not have seen the following posted by an Tory ex-MP about the gay marriage vote. “I think I was just not ready for this step, conflicted between many of my age group and those of the younger generation whose views I wanted to understand. Ultimately I think I knew I was going to be on the wrong side as those who wanted me to vote for were some of the nicest people I came across, something that couldn’t be said about those opposing. With hindsight I wish I had spoken… Read more »

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

“So the appointment of the Bishop of Sheffield is now referred to an independent reviewer. And the appointment of the Bishop of Llandaff is now the subject of a special internal inquiry. Next up….”

The common thread here is that the liberal wing of the church seems to have forgotten that they are just the one wing of the church.

So, just for information: the reason other parts of the church may make decisions (or have reasons for taking decisions) that are not liberal enough is that they are *not liberals*!

David Runcorn
Guest

RevDave Actually a number of people on these threads and elsewhere expressing concern about the traditionalist beliefs of the Bishop of Sheffield are, like me, evangelical. The attempt to divide this into a liberal/conservative divide does not stand up to scrutiny. There is a serious theological debate needed – and that needs all sides to join in.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Chris A is referring to this:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/a-former-mp-has-made-a-heartfelt-apology-for-voting-against

Those with a taste for laughing at stupid people and their self-serving self-justification will read three-times-married Roger Gale’s comments with pleasure. Everyone else will just think them unpleasant.

Andy
Guest
Andy

As there is an official complaints procedure, why have we had weeks of broken confidentiality, press briefings and social media speculation ?

Wouldn’t it have been to have the complaints procedure rather than the media as the initial port of call ? Thus avoiding the need to break confidentiality and not dragging the Church in Wales through the mud before that facts can be established.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Wouldn’t it have been [better?] to have the complaints procedure rather than the media as the initial port of call?” But the allegedly homophobic remarks had already accomplished their full purpose, so any legitimate confidentiality interest was greatly attenuated. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And those who were present of course had no need for any “procedure” to “establish” what they themselves had seen and heard. It’s the rest of us who need a procedure before we know whether the election outcome was tainted by considerations that, according to the Church in Wales, are impermissible. To me the fundamental question… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The whole notion of an election is that voters are free to choose for themselves. During ANY debate there will inevitably be some good arguments made and some bad arguments; we have no choice but to trust the voters to heed the good arguments and ignore the bad ones.”

One question before the review is likely to be whether it is lawful, in the circumstances, to exclude Dr John from further consideration. Surely any organisation is entitled to review its processes to ensure that actions it is considering are lawful?

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

I would counsel against any hope that this process will resolve things in a better light for the Church in Wales or Dr Jeffrey John. If this is purely an investigation into whether the process was – or was not – flawed, I can tell you now what the outcome will be. The Legal sub-committee will establish that the Llandaff electors had 12 votes out of 47 in the Electoral College. It will further establish that the President of the College clarified matters about sexuality and relationship status of candidates (and remember, Bishop John Davies disclosed on Radio 4 at… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Guest
Daniel Lamont

We are clearly embarked on a series of culture wars with people taking sides and adopting rigid positions,or rather assigning such positions to those with whom they disagree. It is now open season on ‘liberals’ which has become a convenient label for those with whom you disagree and on whom to heap opprobrium. It is such a broad term as to be almost meaningless. David Runcorn is right. On both this and the Sheffield matter, the liberal/conservative divide is meaningless. I would repudiate the label ‘evangelical’ for myself but, virtually every time I read one of David’s posts both here… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“How it will be able to establish that comments made Fred Bloggs or Freda Cloggs effected the voting patterns, I am not sure. Psychiatric analysis, perhaps?”

Don’t forget that in cases of discrimination the burden of proof can reverse so that the question might be can it be proven that a) no votes were affected and b) that the decision not to consider Dr John further was in no way whatsoever influenced by his (presumed) sexual orientation.

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

It is very hard to see that there is a *legal* basis for this complaint. Whatever happened in debate is precisely the point of there being a discussion – debate cannot prejudice debate. It would only be prejudicial if the Chair gave instructions or advice which were incorrect, speaking as Chair (i.e. from a position of official authority). There’s no indication that happened here. If sexuality and/or civil partnership were raised in debate, then it’s up to those present to make counter-arguments at the time, and form their own opinions. That must surely be the legal position. in any case,… Read more »

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

Daniel Lamont’s point about a culture war, and the juxtaposition of the Llandaff and Sheffield sagas, is significant and rings true to other ecclesial realities. James Walters’ excellent piece in last Friday’s Church Times is a helpful analysis of where we are, and would repay careful reading and reflection in the light of the fracas surrounding these two episcopal appointments. In particular, those of us who broadly describe our theological position as ‘liberal’ need to wake up to a reality that we have, perhaps, ignored for too long. As Walters puts it: “For decades the liberal idealist spirit of Anglicanism… Read more »

Bob Baird
Guest
Bob Baird

As I watch this saga from afar, I cannot but wonder why those who now wish to lodge a complaint about the process, did not do so when the so called offensive remarks were made.

Stanley Shaw
Guest
Stanley Shaw

A competent, independent assessor must speak to all electors, it having been declared that the declaration of confidentiality applies to all things “legal and honest” The assessment is designed to establish legality under the law of England and Wales and honesty as an ethical norm

Clive Sweeting
Guest
Clive Sweeting

The contrast between the nolo episcopari voice from Burnley and its exact opposite coming from St. Albans is deafening. Politicians clamouring for a PC appointment should perhaps recall that the Speaker of the Commons is traditionally dragged willy-nilly to his chair.

Adam
Guest
Adam

@RevDave, who said that the liberals have forgotten that they are just one wing of the church. What an astonishing attitude. It’s like saying that those who think women should vote are just one wing of the electorate. When will people recognize that gay people aren’t a special interest group? They are just other human beings with the same rights and same access to God’s grace as anyone else. Too bad that they can’t “forget” that they don’t matter and don’t exist in the eyes of some.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

If not, Llandaff, then why not Londinium for Dean Jeffrey John. At least he is fully inclusive – as well as fitting the requirement set out by the Church of England for the episcopal role? He is also one of the few trained theologians among the candidates for the episcopate.

Steve Morgan
Guest
Steve Morgan

‘The contrast between the nolo episcopate voice from Burnley and it’s exact opposite coming from St Albans’ Clive Sweeting – what are you implying here? It seems that both Philip North and Jeffrey John have a valid complaint about the abuse they have received for putting their heads above their respective parapets (they might like to reflect on what it is like for a woman who speaks out for her beliefs: Stella Creasy, Emma Watson, Jess Philips, etc). The only difference I can see is a theological one: Jeffrey John would be able to fulfil his role in Llandaff and… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Philip Jones writes:- “Indeed the constitutional rule of privacy suggests that a candidate has no right even to know that he is a candidate, unless and until the Electoral College elects him by the required majority.” This suggests that the candidates for the Welsh episcopacy are not called to be interviewed in person which throws a whole new light on this situation! I find this to be most surprising. I believe that with the new system currently in operation in England – the candidates are interviewed by the CNC. I believe this to be the case, if so, it would… Read more »

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

Dear Adam and +David
Are you rather evading the argument that liberals (evangelical or catholic) shouldn’t expect non-liberals (gay or straight) to have the same attitudes as them when it comes to issues they see as important, or questions they see as legitimate, when selecting a Bishop?

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘The contrast between the nolo episcopari voice from Burnley and its exact opposite coming from St. Albans is deafening. Politicians clamouring for a PC appointment should perhaps recall that the Speaker of the Commons is traditionally dragged willy-nilly to his chair.’ Clive Sweeting, for the first week or so of this issue I thought the same as you. I’ve come to see it differently. Philip North has the very active patronage of an archbishop who has robustly defended him in public and, by implication, rebuked those who opposed his appointment to Sheffield (as he also did re. Whitby). North, though… Read more »