Thinking Anglicans

Oxford diocese reports the CDM decision on the Dean

Updated Saturday

We reported on 1 June that the CDM complaint against the Dean of Christ Church had been dismissed. Today, the Diocese of Oxford has reported as follows.

Decision by the President of Tribunals

The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy

A decision has been made regarding the complaint against the Very Reverend Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. The President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin DBE, has decided that it would not be proportionate to refer the matter to a CDM tribunal, noting that there is another means of redress that is a more proportionate means of addressing the allegation.

The role of the President of Tribunals is to determine whether there is a case to answer on which a disciplinary tribunal should adjudicate. She writes: “When arriving at this conclusion, I also take into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident. It seems to me therefore that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents.”

Dame Sarah’s decision concludes this Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) process. The matter should be confidential between those involved in it. The Dean remains suspended by Christ Church, pending the outcome of the college’s separate and independently-chaired tribunal.

The Diocese of Oxford is fully committed to justice and fair process. We have offered significant support for those involved. This includes work to ensure proper procedures and offers of pastoral support and counselling for all parties. Where possible, Bishop Steven is also in regular personal contact with everyone involved.

Nevertheless, matters have been and remain extremely difficult and painful for all concerned. We are profoundly disappointed that these difficulties have been compounded by leaks, commentary and speculation by a small group of people online, apparently with little concern for the original complainant’s right to anonymity, or indeed a fair process for the Dean.

Breaches of confidentiality and regularly posting inaccurate information are to the detriment of everyone. The diocese has sought advice on these matters following the leak of Dame Sarah’s written decision. We draw to the attention of all the Clergy Discipline Commission guidance on Confidentiality and Privacy in Clergy Discipline Proceedings, dated February 2021, which is part of its Statutory Guidance:

  1. Allegations of misconduct under the CDM are private and confidential. This is to ensure that matters are dealt with fairly and that the process is not prejudiced. It extends to complainants, respondents and witnesses.
  2. Due to the nature of allegations, individuals concerned will have a reasonable expectation of privacy and confidence at common law. In addition, their personal data will be subject to data protection law. In certain cases, the provisions of section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) 1992 may also apply (anonymity of victims of certain offences).
  3. The default position is that all hearings will take place in private, unless one of the reasons provided for in rule 40 applies.
  4. Accordingly, all matters relating to an allegation should be kept strictly private and confidential. This includes written documents and material which, save for legal representatives, should not be shared with third parties.
  5. In particular, individuals (regardless of whether or not they are a party) should refrain from making statements, posts, comments or similar on social media, websites, print media or other public fora which in any way reference the details of the allegation, the individuals involved, or give an opinion as to the merits or otherwise of the proceedings.

Please join with us in praying for the complainant, for Martyn, for the cathedral chapter and congregation, and for the wider Christ Church community.

Notes

  • Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean of the Cathedral is also Head of an Oxford College.
  • The terms of service of the Dean and the residentiary canons of the cathedral are set out in the Statutes of Christ Church. The post of Dean is indivisible; the different aspects of their duties cannot be separated.
  • The person who brought the complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) did so by virtue of their position at the cathedral and only following consultation and agreement with members of chapter.
  • The internal Christ Church process currently underway is separate and independent of the Church. The decision of the governing body to move to tribunal, and the subsequent process, takes place under the statutes of Christ Church, not under Church legislation. The Bishop of Oxford is advised, but not consulted.
  • Meanwhile, the cathedral’s core work of prayer and the worship of God continues.

Update

Archbishop Cranmer has this morning published Diocese of Oxford misrepresents the President of Tribunals, leaving Martyn Percy ‘under a cloud’.

This guest post by Martin Sewell and David Lamming is long and detailed. Reading it in full is strongly recommended.

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

“Those who have put out the peoples eyes reproach them of their blindness” ~ John Milton – 1642

David James
David James
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Absolutely!

Will Richards
Will Richards
4 months ago

What a bizarre statement. The significance is in what is *not* included. I notice you can’t respond to it on twitter unless you are pre-approved by Oxford Diocese. If Winchester is the Diocese of North Korea, Oxford must now be the Diocese of China!

The Bishop of Oxford, along with the Diocesan legal and communications people, obviously didn’t read this morning’s op ed piece in the Church Times about institutional corruption before publishing this, did they?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Will Richards
4 months ago

Milton wrote ‘Areopagitica’ in 1644 as a protest against censorship and as a defence of freedom of speech and expression. He argued forcefully against the 1643 Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing in which Parliament required authors to have a licence approved by the government before their work could be published.

Nearly 400 years later, we cannot respond on a Twitter account to this monstrous CDM Statement unless “pre-approved by Oxford Diocese”.

‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’ in the Church of England.

Paradise Lost indeed – and unlikely to be regained.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Will Richards
4 months ago

Let’s have less of “The Diocese of North Korea” about Winchester, please. A sick patient, if that is what it is, needs restoring and care, not aggravation of the condition.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

North Korea is not a sick country, but it is one with an oppressive dictatorship. I take it that was the point of the analogy, and no aspersion on the people or parishes.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Due to the ‘recent comments’ listing system, Janet, I have only just seen this. I’m afraid I still find the analogy offensive, in fact very offensive. The sick patient clearly meant Winchester. We don’t want, expect or deserve comparisons with North Korea.

Anthony Cross
Anthony Cross
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Winchester Diocese has been referred to as “The Diocese of North Korea”, informally, for some time now. The term is well-known amongst many in the CofE, although (until recently) perhaps not to the current occupant of Wolvesey. Angela Tilby’s Church Times article merely brought the term into the public forum. Janet’s explanation of the term above is accurate.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Will’s comment didn’t refer to sick patients at all; that was your analogy. As I read it the only aspersion he was casting was on your diocesan bishop. But I can see it’s a very uncomfortable situation for you to be in.

Helen King
Helen King
4 months ago

But the CDM process has stopped, so why should the ‘guidance’ quoted here apply?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Helen King
4 months ago

I think they are quoted in conjunction with the admonishment of those people who have commented on blogs and elsewhere during the currency of the CDM, referred to as “the small group of people who have commented online”. Nothing said about newspapers. However, I think the concluding ‘notes’ are helpful. They deal with subjects of endless debate and dispute here (and particularly on one other blog) and provide a clear, pithy statement of the unique set-up at Christ Church, both Cathedral and College, and where the Bishop does, and does not, fit in. As a final unauthorised comment, can there be any… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

With all this secrecy and obfuscation, it really does make one wonder if the anonymous writer[s] of the ‘dodgy dossier‘ from Oxford Diocese, and the anonymous writer[s] of the ‘dirty dossier’ from Christ Church Oxford, are one and the same.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Oxford Diocesan Synod date – 19 June 2021

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Perhaps. like Winchester, the threat to pass a vote of no confidence in the Bishop of Oxford tomorrow will focus minds, right a wrong and make just an injustice.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
Reply to  Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Thank you, Mark. Now the great, good and upstanding of the Oxford Diocese have their opportunity at last to hold their Bishop to account. The other ‘failed state’ Diocese of Winchester has led the way. Let’s see if we can distinguish between the sheep and the goats by tomorrow evening.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

Curious that the Diocese which has been hiding behind the cloak of ‘confidentiality’ and had not the decency to confirm that the CDM process was over till now, should now breach that confidentiality (on which it claimed its conduct depended) by publishing such a ‘selected’ portion of the President of Tribunals adjudication, and then blather on about serious ‘sexual’ offences, when the President had said it was not an ‘overtly sexual’ incident. Double standards, pots calling kettles and other things come to mind. When will Bishops start istening to their consciences and not those lawyers..?

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Ben
4 months ago

Worth recalling that those lawyers have spent about £2.5m of charity money so far and lost every case.

David Richards
David Richards
Reply to  Ben
3 months ago

Yes, I think you’re right. This has got John Rees’s fingerprints all over it in my opinion. It really is an example of crass stupidity because the truth will out and the Bishop of Oxford (and those with whom he has appeared to have mindlessly colluded) will no longer be able to hide behind their frabricated insinuations and suggestions that ‘there is more to this but we won’t tell you what it is’ – despite the fact that the President of Tribunals has already decisively ruled that there is no ‘more.’ The only other possibility is that the Diocese of… Read more »

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  David Richards
3 months ago

Who is John Rees?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  peter kettle
3 months ago
Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
4 months ago

I find it odd that the Diocese of Oxford is not on the prayer list, as though these events are independent of it. I find it impossible to imagine that the whole Diocese is not grieving and divided by this. For the cathedral, senior leaders, clergy and laity to heal is surely a matter for prayer.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Which prayer list?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Please join with us in praying for the complainant, for Martyn, for the cathedral chapter and congregation, and for the wider Christ Church community.”

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Thanks Rowland. I thought something more formal, such as a national or diocesan prayer cycle, was being referred to.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Trouble is, Stephen, that healing of an abscess does not take place until every last drop of pus has been evacuated. Pray for surgeon and knife.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

I’ll hold your swab Stanley.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
4 months ago

I would absolutely agree that the lady whose hair was allegedly touched should have anonymity, not least as she is not the complainant here as I understand it. How on earth is the purpose of justice served if secrecy is imposed on all parties? Doesn’t the CofE publish the details of tribunal decisions on its website and issue press releases to publicise the outcome? This is not an in house disciplinary procedure, this is a legal procedure which can potentially deprive someone of their livelihood, home and vocation. How can a respondent properly defend themselves without sharing the details of… Read more »

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

I had thought that Dame Sarah’s judgement had been published. Maybe in future if TA links to something leaked that should be made obvious?

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Kate, there has been no ‘leak’. That is mendacious spin by whoever wrote the statement on the diocesan website – a statement only posted 21 days after the decision of the President’s ruling, dated 28 May 2021, that there was no case to send to a disciplinary tribunal. . The position of the President’s office was clearly stated in this e-mail in August 2020 from the Secretary to the President, Conor Gannon, in response to an inquiry in an unrelated case in another diocese: “From our perspective, we treat decisions of the President as confidential. So we do not share… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
3 months ago

I hope I misunderstood the Diocese of Oxford statement: were diocesan leaders really implying that, if there is concern about safeguarding and/or clergy disciplinary processes, either over victims being let down or procedures misused to pursue personal vendettas, it is none of the business of ordinary C of E members? And that our role should be just to pay money and stay silent while those in charge decide what, if anything, we should be told when there is evidence they have screwed up? While it is important to preserve the anonymity of complainants, a feudal approach is surely unworkable in… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Savi Hensman
3 months ago

In this as in much else in the C of E the ageing hierarchs don’t grasp the power and capability of the internet.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Savi Hensman
3 months ago

“a feudal approach is surely unworkable in the twenty-first century.” We had this same discussion about two weeks back, Savi. When I questioned the intention of the bishops to keep the decision making very much to themselves in the LLF Next Steps process I had Benedict quoted back at me. “As often as any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the abbot summon the whole community. Having heard the advice of the community, he should then take counsel with himself and do what seems expedient. . . . . . . . Let the final decision… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

“the existence of various underlying feudal, autocratic and often unchallengeable power structures in the Church of England”

Most of these power structures are hidden from view – but some are clearly not.

One clue is the geographical location of Church House in London.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

I think looking at things in the Anglican tradition, and beyond that at the Ecumenical level both in my own Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, if we were to get back to simple basics. The Cathedral in a Diocese of these 3 episcopally ordered denominations is the Church that houses the Bishop,s Chair the Cathedra and therefore following on from that logical position is an important place as the basis of a Bishop’s mission in their own Diocese. If the whole set up at Christ Church, with the dual role of being both a Diocesan Cathedral and… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

Jonathan: If the Cathedral were removed to another site, why should the College chapel become a Royal peculiar? Perhaps I have misunderstood, but I can’t see any analogy to St George’s Windsor or Westminster Abbey. We have had this discussion before, and at some length on TA, I think last year. Some people dismissed the importance of the Cathedral as an historical and architecturally very outstanding building, its only possible College rival for splendour being King’s College Cambridge. That is a Royal foundation, but not a Royal peculiar. (But I’m possibly arguing against myself, as I believe even KCC is… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

“Put very bluntly, the message we outsiders are getting from both from the Diocese and the Ch Ch Governing Body is to mind our own business”

RW’s blunt comment reminds me of the words of Walter Lippmann:

“Ignorant and meddlesome outsiders [must] be put in its place” – that place being well away from systems of real power. Such outsiders are to be “spectators ” – not participants.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Roger Button
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

The Visitor at King’s is the Bishop of Lincoln. An interesting complication.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Roger Button
3 months ago

Yes, quite a few College Visitors, particularly in Oxford, are Bishops, often as successor to the College founder. I’m not sure how matters ecclesiastic would be dealt with at KCC. The equivalent role there, the Provost, does not have to be ordained. Aren’t the Cambridge colleges non-Royal peculiars (the term which was applied to Ch Ch by the C of E as the basis of the Dean’s recent CDM). This was discussed some time ago on TA, but I don’t now recall the answer!

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

Many thanks, but I don’t see why it would become a royal peculiar (Christ Church is not the only college at Oxford where the sovereign is visitor). Perhaps it could be left as a sort of pro-cathedral. The choral establishment would remain, as at Magdalen and New College, or King’s and John’s at Cambridge. The stalls could simply be suspended as the canons retire. Only the deanery need be filled, and the dean could also function as college chaplain. I see little need for more than one or two priests at Christ Church: Magdalen and New College each make do… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Actually, instead of making the senior censor (effectively the senior dean in other colleges) the head of house, perhaps it would be better to have a proper head, in the form of a provost (other royal foundations, such as Oriel and Queen’s, or King’s Cambridge and King’s London have provosts). The provost would not be obliged to be in orders, nor be obliged to be Anglican or, indeed, Christian.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Recently elsewhere I quoted the provision in the King’s College Cambridge Statutes for removal of the Provost from office. In contrast to the Ch Ch Statute for removal of the Dean, at KCC removal of the Provost must be for good cause, and the Tribunal to determine the issue is truly independent: a senior judicial or legally qualified chairman and two other persons, all three not being a Fellow or employee of the college. So there, at least, is one model which could be followed in any new Statutes for Ch Ch.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Froghole: Well, apart from our agreeing that a Royal peculiar is not an appropriate successor to the present constitution, you have really sent me away with my tail between my legs! We had much the same discussion last year, including debate over the aesthetic merits of the Cathedral. For a variety of reasons you are in a far better position to say these things than I, an outsider and moreover interloper from the Winchester Diocese (which I believe, in a sense, usurped Birinus’ seat at Dorchester, albeit that it was the good saint who made the move to Winchester). I… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

This is written at speed following services some distance from home… Many thanks for that kind message. Actually I think your views are perfectly reasonable and plausible. If this dispute had been resolved after six or so months then I would have said, fine, there has been some severe scarring but the existing settlement can still just about stand. Yet after almost as many years I feel that it is shot. There is now too much toxic water under the bridge. I very much regret the secularisation of the universities in the nineteenth century and wish it had never happened.… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

My own guess is that we have a contest between academically credentialed faculty/clergy and a dean chosen by them who is not deferring to that reality. Academic life is now defined largely by credentialing exercises. This has long been true in NA and the same system entered with the RAE. I do not believe this is about honoring a clerical identity at CC; the canons are all clerics.

I would agree, for what it is worth, the cathedral status of Christ Church is fairly peculiar given its size, location, and semi-cloistered atmosphere. A shift elsewhere would make sense.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Courtesy of Google, and so with that caveat, the seating capacity of the University Church (a possible alternative suggested by Froghole for the moved Cathedral) is 400, and the seating capacity of Christ Church is 600. Res ipsa loquitur!

I continue to wonder what the Cathedral congregation, and the clergy and laity of the wider Oxford Diocese (paying their ‘parish share’) might feel about these suggestions in which they appear to have no say. They might equally favour a move, but as far as I can see no one has asked them.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

You may be correct about size, but Simon Dawson’s comment resonated with my sense of the situation.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

I was born and brought up in Oxford, but very much on the town side of the town/gown divide.

I think for many Oxford natives the cathedral fits into that category of “one of those University things hidden away behind high walls and gates and aggressive security men, which are OK for the academics and tourists but too much hassle to access for the likes of us”.

I don’t think that is an ideal situation for an episcopal seat.

I think St Mary the Virgin in the High Street would be a much more appropriate and welcoming choice.

Last edited 3 months ago by Simon Dawson
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

My point in part. I have been in Oxford frequently and I always had the sense you describe.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

CR, what do you mean by the term ‘academically credentialled’? Martyn Percy has excellent academic credentials in his own right, unless you’re thinking of some definition or context of which I’m ignorant.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Kindly do a study of RAE standards. Peace.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

What is RAE?

C SEITZ
C SEITZ
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

You can google it. Research Assessment Exercise. Institutions receive funding based on peer-reviewed standards. The means of measurement are also scrutinized and can change (number of times referred to in footnotes; major star committee review; etc). I left the system in 2007 having been through several of these exercises from 1997 onward.

Popular writing is not weighted much, often to the chagrin of the one submitting work for review. A lot of thought goes into how a school organizes its submission across a faculty, since the scores are averaged and a faculty is given one result for the whole institution.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

The ruthlessness (or empiricism) of academic standards is not something, having been tenured at Yale, and having held Chairs at St Andrews and Toronto, I want to defend for someone like the Dean at CC.

My point was that, unless you know this kind of world, you will not likely understand under-currents re: M Percy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_Assessment_Exercise

I said I had a ‘guess’ about dynamics. I could of course be wrong…though I have spent my professional life in these zones.

We are in a funny land now with academic standards of 90s-2020s giving way to other realms of discourse…

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

 “I could of course be wrong…” – C.R. Seitz

And Henry Kissinger could, of course, be right:

“The reason that university politics is so vicious is because stakes are so small”

Mindful of the Third Commandment, perhaps a name change to the College should be considered.

The impossible can be done at once – miracles take a little longer.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Charles Read
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

I am not sure I understand you – Martyn Percy is a first rate academic with a solid publishing record. He even works in similar areas to Canon Ward!

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Which is why you might ask, why Canon Ward is less than agreed on your glowing account of their ‘similar area’ excellence.

My contribution here, such as it is, means to understand why there is manifest and painful dispute. Not to take sides as to whether M Percy has his own public life as Dean/author of essays/books.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Professional rivalry? As a former uni chaplain, I know that experts in the same field can be very bitter rivals. Especially when both of them have applied for the same job.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

If there is a ring of truth to such speculation, I am reminded of the immortal words of tennis player John McEnroe at Wimbledon:

“You cannot be serious!”

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

So, does this “manifest and painful dispute” – which has cost millions – just stem from the fact that one man got the job as Dean while another did not? Surely not.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

“…one man got the job as Dean while another did not.” It is interesting to hear what people choose to read in a comment.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

C.R. Seitz, your ambiguous comment: “Which is why you might ask, why Canon Ward is less than agreed on your glowing account of their ‘similar area’ excellence” inevitably invites an interpretation of what you mean. I make no apology for my interpretation. If you disagree with it, say so. Don’t hide behind your ambiguities.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Christ Church transitioned to a system where the Dean was ‘democratically’ elected. At issue isn’t him versus candidate #2, but rather a sense of ownership by those electing. I suspect the pay complaint irked academics who gain advancement and credibility via the RAE (now REF) and felt that the Dean ought to be content to have the job at all.

Don’t hide behind your misinterpretations and predilections. See also Janet Fife’s “Can’t be as simple as that.” Correct.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

If your interpretations and predilections are more correct, CR Seitz, then it’s not only the lady who is being used to further a hidden agenda.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Can’t be as simple as that. I suspect there are multiple factors.

There are university departments where the academic staff are all at each others’ throats, and doubtless some Oxbridge colleges where the same applies.

I seem to recall that the socialist Henry Leighton Goudge, Regius Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church 1923-39, found the college not altogether congenial. That’s a long time ago of course, but in places which highly value tradition the ethos may not change all that much.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

One (in)famous example was the battle between Hugh Trevor Roper (Lord Dacre) Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and the Peterhouse Governing Body in the 1980s.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

I believe it is just here where people would disagree.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

“I very much regret the secularisation of the universities in the nineteenth century and wish it had never happened. The standing of the Church in the university has gone from being that of an indulgent paterfamilias to a poor relation and now to a barely tolerated house guest. The fracas at Christ Church has demonstrated the extent to which the standing of the Church has fallen” ~ ‘Froghole’ I thought this might be of interest:- reminding us all in 2021AD of the ancient ecclesiastical origins of the Oxford Colleges [including Christ Church]. On this day – June 20 1214 – the University… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Thank you for the various interesting comments made. As I see it, the university church is not only a much more prominent building, it is arguably more deeply embedded within the heart of the city and university than the current cathedral. If it has a seating capacity of 400 (which is less than it had when it had more galleries), then that compares favourably with, say, Leicester cathedral (seating capacity of 300-400) or those of Birmingham or Derby. It is as distinguished a church as any of these and would, by twentieth century standards, have been seen fit to be… Read more »

C SEITZ
C SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Brilliant. Very helpful.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

The choral foundation is specifically the Cathedral’s not that of the College, but on your proposal it should not be beyond the bounds of possibility for the choir to sing at least some of the services at St Mary’s. Leicester, Derby and Birmingham all have cathedral choirs. I suppose it’s a further matter where the views of the congregation ought to be sought.

England – ‘das Land ohne Musik’ – or is it below the belt to say that!

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Thank you, Rowland, for the suggestion that members of the Oxford diocese might have a view on the way that our cathedral is being misused. I have been a member of the Oxford diocese for 30 years, and also in my teenage years for a further five years during school terms. I am distressed and offended by the way that a dispute within Christ Church as a college is impacting on the way that my Cathedral operates. There has been enough—more than enough—comment on the current dispute. I do not propose to add to it, except to say that I… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Exham
3 months ago

This, essentially, is what I, as a total outsider, was presumptuous to tentatively suggest last year.

Last edited 3 months ago by Rowland Wateridge
Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Exham
3 months ago

The Diocese has, in the press release, set their face against that by saying that the Dean’s role in indivisible. And I can see why. Why would the Diocese want ‘their man’ (or woman) to go from being Head of House to a lesser status?

My guess is that Christ Church is stuck with the combined role and recruiting to replace the Dean in due course will be an absolute nightmare.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

That particular sentence in the press release was an over-simplification. The Dean does exercise separate and distinct powers, and the Statutes identify specific matters reserved to the Governing body and others reserved specifically to the Dean and Chapter to the exclusion of the Governing Body. The College and the Chapter have their own separate seals. Froghole explained some time ago that things like finance matters had become merged for accounting convenience as Christ Church was providing the funds, e.g., for the Dean’s stipend in both roles. Nevertheless, from the Statutes it is clear that there are separate accounts. My understanding… Read more »

brcw2
brcw2
3 months ago

Who is this “Diocese of Oxford” which speaks of what “we” have done? No names are given here, but I’m presuming this statement was not written by the diocesan synod. So who is it who is claiming the authority to be able to speak as “the Diocese”? I know more than a few members of the Oxford Diocese who very much disagree with some points made in this statement.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

“Diocese of Oxford misrepresents the President of Tribunals, leaving Martyn Percy ‘under a cloud’”

Lambeth’s Archbishop Justin Welby and Diocese of Chichester’s Bishop Martin Warner misrepresented the Carlile Review, leaving Bishop George Bell ‘under a cloud’.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

One wonders how the Church of today would treat the prospect of Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair? Would this have occasioned a charge of “Personal Harassment’, one wonders?(A fond stroking of a woman’s hair does seem rather modest in comparison!) In Aotearoa/N.Z. a priest is already under scrutiny for supposedly over-using the traditional ‘Kiss of Peace’! One wonders if Saint Paul’s admonition to “Greet one another with a brotherly kiss” will one day be outlawed?

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

That said, I think it’s appropriate to factor in the history of unwanted sexual advances and micro-sexual aggressions that many women experience through their lives. One single instance may be pretty much nothing in itself, or wholly unintended to be sexually expressed, but collectively I do think many women (but not all) have bad experiences through their lives. And that being so, yes, unsolicited stroking of hair could impact because of episodes earlier in life, and the unknown ‘what might follow?’ . Please be assured, I’m not taking sides. I think a woman is absolutely entitled to complain, and it’s… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

“Entitled to complain” is utterly uncontentious and the matter must be addressed. To say it must be addressed “proportionately” is neither to deny nor denigrate. It is simply good practice. The context of the matter must be underlined. Nothing sexual was done, implied or alleged. That is rather important. The fact that that context was both hidden and from that darkness, capitalised upon by malicious people who ” bigged up” the narrative, is shameful. One way of looking at this is as follows. Suppose it was a lesbian woman who was being broken and hounded out of office for precisely… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

I deeply value your standards, experience and resilience, Martin. Thank you. In my comment above I was just trying to add the proviso to understanding, that the accumulative unwanted experiences women have to put up with does mean that even the most innocent actions may sometimes be unwanted, because you never know if they are precursors to the unknown that may follow, either at the time or thereafter. I’ll never forget one evening, coming home in the dark after a 12 hour nursing shift on a very busy ward of an East London hospital. I was exhausted. I was trudging… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

It’s important to reiterate that Dean Percy denies having ever touched the woman’s hair.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

I had missed that, Janet, which is very remiss of me. Thank you, because that is obviously an important element in this. To the extent that the woman thinks or knows he did, I was writing to stress that ‘stroking someone’s hair’ is not just a small matter to be dismissed. There is then the issue of reconciling two people’s different accounts. That’s not something we can do here, but I do think it’s reasonable for people to question whether Martyn Percy has been persecuted by the Governing Body (as I believe to be the case). And also reasonable to… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

“A fond stroking of a woman’s hair does seem rather modest in comparison.”

Whew.

This statement made in public by a faculty person today would likely bring an HR complaint.

Dan Barnes-Davies
3 months ago

Since the difficulties of “senior clergy” having inherent conflicts of pastoral care vs management are well-rehearsed, why is it that “Bishop Steven is also in regular personal contact with everyone involved” is offered as if to comfort or reassure?

In such an acute case where pastoral care is so clearly required and yet the diocesan will obviously have to act qua manager at various point; and in a diocese where there are three area bishops and four archdeacons; why has “Bishop Steven” not delegated his pastoral responsibilities?

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Dan Barnes-Davies
3 months ago

Given all that has happened if Bishop Croft were to offer me pastoral care I’d politely decline and say that I would make my own arrangements.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
3 months ago

I’m no lawyer but to this layman Messrs Lamming and Sewell have absolutely summed up this dreadful business. Their questions are unlikely to be answered but in my experience it is the question which is important less so the answers.

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