THE review of events in the diocese of Monmouth in 2018-19 has elicited unreserved apologies from the new Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, and the chair of the Representative Body, James Turner.
On Monday, they wrote: “We wish to express our sorrow and regret that what could have been an opportunity to attend well to a challenging situation became ruinous and distressing and left numerous people vulnerable and damaged.
“This has not reflected well on the Church in Wales, and for that we apologise unreservedly to all those wounded by our failures.”
The new Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Cherry Vann, responded: “I am pleased that the Monmouth inquiry and review has at last been published. I know that this will be a relief to many in the diocese of Monmouth who were left confused and dismayed when their former Bishop, Richard Pain, stood back from his role and eventually retired. The report will go a long way to answering their questions and explaining much of what happened and why.
“I am particularly pleased that the report exonerates the current Archdeacon of Newport, Jonathan Williams, and the former Dean, Lister Tonge, and the former Archdeacon of Monmouth, Ambrose Mason. I want to pay tribute to them and to the office staff, clergy, and people of the diocese who continued faithfully with the work of Church whilst feeling left bereft and abandoned.”
The diocese, she said, had moved on since then; “much has been achieved in the last two years.” She hoped that the report’s publication would enable the diocese “to draw a line under this unhappy time”.
The three clerics named by Bishop Vann, who had come under prolonged criticism during the episode, also issued a joint statement.
The Very Revd Lister Tonge, the Ven. Ambrose Mason, and the Ven. Jonathan Williams, thanked Bishop Graham James and the review group for the “thorough and pastoral way” in which they handled such a “very difficult and damaging period. . .
“We regret that some sections have been redacted, but hope that what has been published will help a better understanding of everything that occurred and the consequences of various decisions made. We totally accept the report in full.”
The three also expressed gratitude for the apology by the Archbishop and Mr Turner, “and for the retraction of the misleading and damaging press statement issued in December 2018. These steps will help us greatly in moving on from the traumatic events” detailed in the review, although they add: “We shall continue to live with the deep scars those events have caused us.”
They hoped that the diocese and the wider Church in Wales would reflect on and learn from the events described.