THE Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, has said that an independent review of bullying allegations against her has not listened to those in her diocese “who have a different story to tell”.
In a letter to clergy and laity in her diocese last Friday, Bishop Dyer writes that she had approached the College of Bishops in February “for help in understanding some of the puzzling and distressing issues which I was experiencing in the diocese. Many, indeed most, of these issues went back to the time of my arrival in the Diocese, and even before.”
The College of Bishops commissioned a review by the Revd Professor Ian Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland (News, 12 March), which was published on Saturday. The review says that eight individuals had made claims of being disadvantaged, treated unequally, or diminished by Bishop Dyer.
In her letter, however, Bishop Dyer writes: “I felt that Professor Torrance’s report did not fully address the issue which I had originally raised with the College. Some, through the press, had raised concerns about how they felt they were treated by me. Elsewhere, many others had shared with me their own experiences of feeling unsafe or unwelcome in our churches. Alongside this, I had also felt myself, since I arrived, to be subject to significant bullying and harassment on a number of fronts. It was all of this that prompted my request that a review should take place.”
Bishop Dyer writes that she is “very sorry” if some in her diocese feel “unease”, and acknowledges the emotional cost for those who participated in the review. She goes on to write, however, that this is “also true for those who have a different story to tell, but who are now feeling that their voices have not been heard or have been excluded. There are a diversity of views in the diocese, different perspectives and understandings of what is happening among us.”
She also writes that, since the review was carried out, she has “continued to be subject to repeated attacks on social media, some of which has been described as simple ‘harassment’, and others reported to the police as possible hate crimes.”
She continues: “It is my earnest desire to seek to understand and take responsibility for my contribution to the present distress. I want to take very seriously the feelings and opinions of those who are represented in the report.
“I also want to understand the feelings and opinions of those whose contributions have not yet been included. However, we need to hear and understand these things together if we are to take responsibility, say sorry where needed, and look for a way ahead.”
She concludes: “It is my hope and prayer that we together will engage in whatever process of listening and mediation is ahead. For healing to happen, we will need to commit to work together towards relationships of mutual respect, trust and love.”
Letter: Heed Torrance on the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney