COMPLAINTS laid under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) increased by almost a half between 2015 and 2017, figures from Church House suggest.
A total of 108 complaints were made last year, and 27 penalties were imposed. In the first year in which the Measure was in force (2006), there were 71 complaints. In 2015, there were 73. The number then started rising, reaching 96 in 2016.
A spokesperson said that no reason for the trend had been identified.
The figures were provided as the Church Times collected views on the Measure from parish priests, archdeacons, bishops, and former clergy spouses, many of whom argue that the CDM is in need of reform.
Dr Sarah Horsman, Warden of the Sheldon Community, which is seeing the toll that the process takes on members of the clergy, said that she feared that people were being “needlessly lost to ministry.
“There are people who have been cleared, or find they have no case to answer, but the process itself has damaged them to such an extent that they either have long-term problems or leave the ministry.”
One priest, who was subject to a complaint that was eventually judged by his bishop — who placed full confidence in him — to be “maliciously motivated”, described it as the worst experience of his life.
Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the General Synod, having dealt with people going through the CDM, that the process had “often contributed very badly indeed to their well-being. The process has been a punishment, not the outcome” (News, 14 July 2017).
Read our feature on fears that the CDM is causing lasting harm.