THE Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, has ruled out any independent inquiry into the senior leadership of Llandaff diocese, despite allegations of bullying made against the Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd June Osborne.
A disciplinary tribunal concluded in November that she had a case to answer in the matter of the Dean of Llandaff, the Very Revd Gerwyn Capon, whose account of his dealings with the Bishop prompted wider complaints about her alleged behaviour (News, 26 November 2021).
An inquiry would be “unprecedented in the history of the Church in Wales”, the Archbishop says in a response sent to the 23 members of the Llandaff Cathedral congregation who voiced their concerns in an open letter to the Church Times last month (Letters, 17/24 December).
He continues: “I am advised there are serious questions about the lawfulness of me doing so.”
The Archbishop acknowledges the signatories to the letter to be “sincere and well-intentioned members of the Cathedral community. . . I hear the concern for the good name of the Cathedral and diocese and understand the anxiety expressed.”
He declares himself satisfied that there was “no further material complaint to be considered” about the contentious vestry meeting at the cathedral last year. He was satisfied with the “clear and unambiguous” judgment from the Diocesan Chancellor, Judge Andrew Keyser, invited by Bishop Osborne to review the treatment of complainants at the meeting.
“However,” he continues, “Judge Keyser made the point, wisely in my view, that a pastoral note and tone — ‘conciliatory’ is the phrase he uses — would have been helpfully offered at the vestry meeting and ought still to be the primary response to the difficulties being experienced.”
The Archbishop declares that he has no authority over any diocese except his own, unless the see is vacant. “In any event, were I to [commission the ‘comprehensive, transparentm and fully independent’ inquiry requested by the 23] I would not have the power to implement any findings or recommendations it might make. I therefore am unwilling to do so.”
He invites the complainants to “work together with the Chapter and the Bishop by careful listening and the sort of open conversation you yourself commend in order to allow the Cathedral to move forward in its mission”.
Thirteen of the 28 recommendations of an in-depth inquiry into the events surrounding the absence and subsequent retirement of the Bishop of Monmouth, published in December, were around the broader culture and constitution of the Church in Wales (News, 17 December). One was a full review of the position and powers of the Archbishop of Wales in the constitution.