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Church of Wales rejects complaints over Bishop of Llandaff selection

Posted on: April 3, 2017 2:50 PM
Photo Credit: Diocese of Llandaff
Related Categories: electoral college, Llandaff, Wales

The Church in Wales has rejected claims of "deeply inappropriate" conduct during the selection process for a new Bishop of Llandaff.

A gay clergyman, the Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, accused the Church of homophobia after he was rejected for the role. He is understood to have received over half the votes, but not the two thirds required.

One of the complaints came from five members of the Church in Wales' electoral college, the body which discusses and votes on bishop candidates. They had said: "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’s legal sub committee had investigated three complaints in total and said all three were “without merit.”  His Honour Judge Andrew Keyser QC, said: “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."

Last month the Church in Wales said it was satisfied that the Electoral College process had been carried out properly and fairly: “The meeting was confidential and we will not comment on speculation about the nomination and discussion of candidates. However, we strongly deny allegations of homophobia in the process. Neither homosexuality nor participation in a civil partnership are a bar to any candidate being either nominated or elected as a Bishop in the Church in Wales.”

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.”

Dr Jeffrey John was nominated as Bishop of Reading in 2003, but was asked to withdraw from the role by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He entered a civil partnership in 2006, but said at the time he had remained celibate, in line with Church teaching.

The legal sub committee's full ruling is here: