Sodor and Man disciplinary tribunal upholds misconduct charges

04 November 2016

KEVIN ROTHWELL/GEOGRAPH/COMMONS

Former post: St Columba's, Arbory

Former post: St Columba's, Arbory

MISCONDUCT charges against a former priest in the diocese of Sodor & Man have been found proven by a disciplinary tribunal, which concluded that he was untruthful, arrogant, prone to losing his temper, and lacking compassion or any sign of remorse.

The tribunal investigated a series of complaints made formally against Canon Jules Gomes by his Archdeacon, the Ven. Andrew Brown, last year.

After the complaints were formally made, but before the tribunal began, Canon Gomes, formerly the Vicar of St Columba’s, Arbory, and Castletown, resigned (News, 29 January). He has since established his own independent Anglican church on the island.

The tribunal’s verdict, delivered last week, determined that Canon Gomes had frequently and unjustifiably lost his temper while dealing with parishioners, causing a volunteer cleaner to leave the congregation after 20 years’ service, and prompting the resignation of two churchwardens.

“In exercising a need on his part to assert his authority, and with an over-inflated view of his own self-importance, [Canon Gomes] has dealt with people with little or no compassion or pastoral concern,” the tribunal concluded.

Since the complaints were made, Canon Gomes has embarked on a campaign to vilify other clergy in the diocese, accusing both Archdeacon Brown and the Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, of racist bullying and harassment in Manx media outlets, and even submitting a petition of grievance to the island’s parliament, the Tynwald.

He has also refused to take any part in the disciplinary proceedings, and did not appear at the hearing.

The tribunal found, however, that Canon Gomes’s claims about Archdeacon Brown and Bishop Paterson were entirely untrue.

It also ruled that Canon Gomes had untruthfully claimed that another priest in the diocese, the Revd Erica Scott, who assisted during his parish’s interregnum, had referred to him as a “darkie”.

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“We regard the making and pursuit of unfounded allegations as serious conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders,” the determination states.

A final charge of exaggerating his past experience on his CV while applying for his post, which he took up in 2012, was considered to be largely proven by the tribunal, but it did not find that this action amounted to formal misconduct.

“We have no doubt that such behaviour on the part of the Respondent has damaged the reputation of the Church,” the tribunal’s determination concludes.

In an interview on Monday with a local radio station, Canon Gomes described the tribunal as a “joke”, although he admitted that he had lost his temper and did have an over-inflated sense of his own importance.

Bishop Paterson was acting as a “Pharisee”, and the Church of England’s “sharia law” must not be used to block democracy on the Isle of Man, he said.

Speaking later on Manx Radio, Bishop Paterson, who retires next week, said that it was time to move on from the sorry saga. “To call this ‘sharia law’ would be laughable if it was not so serious. It was disgraceful in the extreme,” he said.

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