Welsh diocesan quits amid rumours

by
01 May 2008

by Margaret Duggan

Marriage troubles: Bishop Cooper and the Revd Mandy Williams-Potter

Marriage troubles: Bishop Cooper and the Revd Mandy Williams-Potter

THE Bishop of St Davids, the Rt Revd Carl Cooper, has resigned, it was announced on Tuesday.

A press statement said: “He has apologised for any of his actions that have caused offence and made it impossible for him to continue his ministry as Bishop of St Davids. The Archbishop and the Bench of Bishops have accepted the resignation as being in the best interests of the diocese and the Church in Wales at this time.”

Early in March, after a series of rumours had been circulating for some time, 23 of the diocesan clergy signed a letter to the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, asking him to look into the allegations about the Bishop’s relationship with his chaplain and communications officer, the Revd Mandy Williams-Potter, which had been circulating ever since she had accompanied him on a working trip to Uganda a year ago.

The rumours had intensified since the Bishop, who is 47, had announced he was separating from his wife, Joy, after 25 years of marriage, and it was known that Mrs Williams-Potter, 38, had also separated from her husband. Both couples have children; and both insisted that no one else was involved in the break-up of their marriages (News, 14 March).

After the letter, which had been initiated by the Vicar of St Peter’s, Carmarthen, the Revd Dr William Strange, and the Vicar of Llangennech and Hendy, the Revd Peter Jones, and after consultation with Dr Morgan, Bishop Cooper agreed to take indefinite leave of absence. Since then, there has been a series of meetings.

Reports, some extravagant, of termination packages and deals have circulated; but it has also been widely reported that Dr Morgan was firmly opposed to any such arrangement. It is not yet known what Bishop Cooper’s future will be, but it has been confirmed that Mrs Williams-Potter has also resigned from her post in the diocese.

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The senior staff of the diocese issued a statement on Tuesday. It said: “Bishop Carl’s announcement now enables us to move on and to focus on the many positive aspects of the diocese’s vocation and ministry. The events of recent months have weighed heavily on so many people in the diocese and we continue to hold them in prayer.”

It was signed by the Dean, the Very Revd John Wyn Evans, and the three archdeacons, the Ven. Dr John Holdsworth of St Davids, the Ven. Alun Evans of Carmarthen, and the Ven. Andrew John of Cardigan.

Until a new Bishop is elected, the Archbishop, Dr Morgan, will assume overall responsibility for the diocese. The machinery of election will take some time, as some diocesan members have yet to be elected to the electoral college.

The college will be made up of six clergy and six laity from the diocese of St Davids, with three clergy and three laity from each of the other five dioceses, plus the Bench of Bishops.

Eventually, they will closet themselves for prayer and consultation in a cathedral, and not emerge until they can announce the name of the new bishop.

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