The rumour that an arrangement was going to be put in place whilst the impasse between
Jersey’s Dean and the Bishop
of Winchester was resolved has now been confirmed via the following Press
Release issued from
earlier today. Lambeth Palace
“The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the
Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the
Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.
The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop
John Gladwin in
relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.
The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the
He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral
visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which
they met local church leaders and Island authorities
from both Deaneries.
The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the
Islands’ formal relationship with
the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look
at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of
Winchester and the wider Church of England.”
It is now 10 months since the saga was first made public; it has been described as a mess where its origins began in the summer of 2008 when an allegation of sexual abuse was unsatisfactorily dealt with by
Dean for which he has subsequently apologised. It is hard to estimate what the allegation has cost
the Church of England not only to its purse but to its reputation. What is
again evident is that the victim known as HG is not mentioned in the Press
Release nor any safeguarding issues.
What is unknown is how long the interim arrangement will last and what arrangements are in hand to end the impasse between the Dean and Bishop. What is evident is that after 10 months, the Archbishop has felt it necessary to make an interim arrangement because two of his senior Clergy are unable to resolve their differences.
Church goers are entitled to expect their leaders to set examples and to practice what they preach. However we have two senior clergy who are unable to work together, where is the peace and reconciliation? How can they and fellow clergy espouse the virtues of peace and reconciliation as advanced by the likes of Nelson Mandela when two of its senior clergy are unable to practice what they should be preaching?
The Press Release states that the interim arrangement has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester and that the reports he commissioned, the Steel and Gladwin will be completed in due course. It should be recalled that when I met Dame Heather Steel at the end of October she would not see HG on the grounds that her report was almost complete, there was nothing that HG could add to it which she was due to submit to the Bishop at the end of the month. If the report is not complete is it because steps are being taken to interview the Church Warden and HG.
What is also of interest is that not withstanding that former Bishop
John Gladwin is
investigating the Constitutional relationship, the Archbishop intends to
appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands,
the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church. Has John
Gladwin found insurmountable obstacles during his investigation and how much
will the Commission cost and who will foot the bill?
Bishop Dakin has circulated a letter to his Clergy in which I am told he has apparently stated that what began as an important safe guarding matter has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues but the safe guarding investigations will continue. It would be interesting to know what investigations are in hand. However what must now be evident to Bishop Dakin is that the short strip of water between
and Jersey is not only hazardous but also shark infested
and it must come as a relief that he is being released from an unenviable