New survey to examine effects of Clergy Discipline Measure

01 November 2019

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TWO years after the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that the process associated with the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) was punishing people (News, 14 July 2017), a survey investigating its effects has been launched.

All clergy with PTO in England are eligible to answer the questionnaire, as are all those who have been a respondent in a CDM case, wherever they now live, and regardless of whether they are still in active ministry.

The research has been commissioned from the University of Aston by Sheldon, an independent charity whose warden, Dr Sarah Horsman, has concluded that the CDM is “not fit for purpose” (News, 31 May).

Sheldon began researching the impact of the Measure last year, after encountering clergy and their families who were struggling to cope with the effects of the process, sometimes years after its conclusion (Features, 19 October 2018).

This week, Dr Horsman said that the research had been commissioned because “little solid evidence exists on how the CDM is actually functioning in practice.” Besides the online survey, there will be focus groups and interviews, and a review of literature.

Addressing the Ecclesiastical Law Society earlier this year, she warned that the CDM was “threatening to honest clergy, including those who err in minor ways, while being minimally effective with the very small minority of real wrongdoers.” Among those from whom Sheldon had heard was the wife of a priest who had taken his own life within days of the arrival of a CDM notice, and a priest who had twice attempted suicide.

Launched on Friday of last week, the survey has already received 1221 responses. It has been endorsed by the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, who is chairing a separate working group investigating CDM. He has asked all diocesan bishops to circulate the survey to all clergy in their dioceses.

Clergy can take part in the survey by contacting their bishop, if the link has not already been circulated in their diocese, or by emailing Sheldon direct at cdm@sheldon.uk.com. FAQs about the survey are available at www.sheldon.uk.com/cdmsurvey.

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