Updated Saturday morning
The Church in Wales has issued a “further statement” today (scroll down):
Further statement – March 31
The Church’s Legal Subcommittee has advised that three complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff are without merit and that the Bishops should proceed to fill the vacancy.
In a 16-page document, the members of the subcommittee, chaired by His Honour Judge Andrew Keyser QC, concluded:
“All three Complaints are without merit. The proper course is for the Bishops to proceed to fill the vacancy in accordance with Regulation 23 and the exercise of their own judgment.”
Responding to the advice, the Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd, said, “I am very grateful to the legal subcommittee for their thorough and prompt examination of the complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff. I can now confirm that proper procedure has been followed and there are no grounds for the complaints submitted. This means the Bench of Bishops can continue its task of appointing the new bishop without further delay.”
The 16 page document includes full details of all three complaints which have been considered. Further information from the report is copied below the fold.
There’s also a second letter below the first, from retired archbishop Barry Morgan. He’s cross too.
Wording of the three complaints
The First Complaint was made on 24 March 2017, one month after the conclusion of the Meeting, by four of the twelve Episcopal Electors from the Diocese of Llandaff. (A
fifth has since asked to be considered a co-signatory.) It is in the following terms:
“We the undersigned Llandaff electors wish to make a formal complaint about the recent process to appoint a Bishop of Llandaff, regarding the following:
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.
We ask that this complaint be passed to the correct person who can undertake investigation and response. As the complaint is materially relevant to the outcome of the electoral college, we ask that the electoral college of February 2017 be declared invalid, and any further appointment be stayed until such time as this complaint has been investigated and satisfactorily resolved. Please would you be kind enough to
1. acknowledge this complaint
2. let us know what procedure will be used for investigation
3. let us know the timescale we can expect for investigation.”
The Second Complaint was made on 28 March 2017 by four further individuals from the Diocese of Llandaff. Although they describe themselves as and are members of the
Llandaff Diocesan Standing Committee, they have made it clear that they write in their personal capacity. The Second Complaint is in the following terms:
“We the undersigned, members of the Llandaff Diocesan Standing Committee, wish to lodge a formal complaint about the process to appoint a new bishop of Llandaff, arising from the press release which states that a short list of candidates has been drawn up (C in W website 16th March 2017) and quotes Bishop John as saying:
‘Our unanimous view was that to consider further all or any of the candidates nominated at the College, none of whom achieved the required majority of votes to be elected, would call into question the integrity of the Electoral College process, and that, were any one of the candidates offered to the College to be subsequently appointed, that would be unfair to the other candidates.’
It is the duty of the Bench of Bishops to appoint the most suitable candidate i.e. the person who best fits the diocesan profile and the person specification as determined by the Electoral College, and the Note on a Provincial Perspective given to electors. These documents were made available to the Standing Committee prior to the meeting with Bishop John on March 8th as part of the consultation process.
It is unreasonable and unfair of the Bishops to have excluded from the shortlist those candidates nominated for consideration by the Electoral College, who would be among those most likely to match the agreed criteria. The failure of any candidate to obtain the necessary two thirds majority of votes does not imply that there were objections to those candidates.
By their exclusion of qualified individuals the bishops are failing in their duty to appoint the best candidate, each of whom should be considered on her/his merits.
We request that no appointment be made until this complaint has been investigated and satisfactorily resolved, or the decision to exclude these candidates is revoked.
Please acknowledge receipt of this complaint, pass this complaint to the appropriate person(s) to investigate and respond, inform us of the procedure that will be used to investigate this complaint, and the likely timescale.”
The Third Complaint was made late on the evening of 30 March 2017, a full fortnight after the announcement by the Bishops on 16 March, by five Area Deans in the Diocese
of Llandaff. It is in the following terms:
“As a group of Area Deans serving in the Diocese of Llandaff we write to complain about an irregularity in the consultation process announced in a Church in Wales press release on March 2nd 2017. The consultation included the Area Deans of Llandaff.
The statement read: ‘Those consulted will be invited to suggest names of individuals who might be considered suitable for appointment as Bishop of Llandaff, and names must be suggested in time for the next meeting of Bishops which begins on March 14th.’
Other interested parties were also invited to send emails to their Diocesan Bishop or, in the case of Llandaff Diocese, Bishop John Davies, with suggestions of names for consideration.
The statement went on: ‘When they meet, the Bishops will consider all the names suggested to them as potential candidates for appointment in the hope that a suitable candidate can be identified.’
The clear implication in this statement and at the meeting held by Bishop John with the Area Deans on March 6th at the Prebendal House in Llandaff, was that all names would be considered. It has subsequently become apparent that certain persons, namely those identified as potential candidates at the Electoral College, irrespective of suitability, were not included on a short list compiled by the Bishops.
Clergy and laity in the Diocese of Llandaff sent the names of their preferred candidate in good faith that each would be taken seriously. It appears that the Bench decided only those who had not been considered at the Electoral College were to be deemed eligible for consideration by the Bishops. The result is that many of us feel our trust in this good faith has been misplaced and that confidence in the process has been eroded. This has caused considerable anguish amongst clergy and laity in the Diocese and has brought the Church into a level of disrepute.
We therefore request that the process of appointing a new Bishop of Llandaff be halted until such time that this defect of proper process has been fully investigated. This investigation should also take into account the lack of consideration given to those of us who wrote to support a candidate who may have been mentioned in the Electoral College, given that we had no certain knowledge of who these may have been. It is imperative that an appointment is made without any tarnish of discrimination.
We would be grateful for a speedy response to this letter of complaint. We trust you will refer it to the appropriate authority for investigation and let us know who this is. Finally we request that you appraise us of an estimated timescale for this investigation.”