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No further action over priest’s ‘insensitive’ vlog

05 April 2024

The Revd Brett Murphy described Canon Rachel Mann as a ‘fella’

Diocese of Manchester

Canon Rachel Mann

Canon Rachel Mann

A PRIEST formerly in the C of E, who used “arguably highly insensitive” terms when speaking about the Church’s first transgender archdeacon, has no case to answer, the President of Tribunals has ruled.

Last June, after the Ven. Dr Rachel Mann was appointed as the Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford (News, 23 June 2023), the Revd Brett Murphy, then Vicar of St David’s, Broom Leys, in comments on his YouTube channel (News, 22/29 December 2023), said that Dr Mann was “in fact, biologically, a bloke, who identifies and lives as a woman”. He also described her as a “fella” and a “radical rainbow activist”.

In a further posting in July, he announced that he had “walked away from the apostasy, the corruption, and the heresy” of the Church of England, which, he said, had “abandoned” him and others like him. He joined the Free Church of England.

This week, a spokesperson for the diocese of Leicester said that complaints had been lodged against Mr Murphy while he was a priest in the diocese. These “related to various matters and did not relate purely to one issue”. They had been dealt with in accordance with the Clergy Discipline Measure.

“After due consideration, the four cases were determined and no further action was taken. One, concerning a vlog by Revd Murphy, was reopened after an appeal was made by the complainant and upheld by the President of Tribunals. . .

“In the reopened case, the President of Tribunals ruled that there was not a case for Mr Murphy to answer so the complaint would not be referred to the bishop’s disciplinary tribunal. No further steps can now be taken in relation to the complaint.”

Mr Murphy was supported by the Christian Legal Centre. In a press release last week, Christian Concern said that the deputy chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission, David Turner KC, had ruled: “The words used (‘bloke’ and ‘fella’), whilst arguably highly insensitive in their context, are not in themselves offensive words. . .

“I have concluded here, looking at the overall picture of conduct alleged, that what was said falls short on the facts of any threshold for further proceedings. It follows that there is, therefore, no case to answer in respect of which a disciplinary tribunal should now be asked to adjudicate.”

In a statement after the ruling, Mr Murphy said: “The decisions by the C of E to investigate and pursue me for stating biological truth has reinforced and vindicated all the concerns that I raised in the original vlog.”

Archdeacon Mann is a writer of poetry, liturgy, theology, and fiction and an occasional contributor to the Church Times. She is also a commentator on BBC radio and television, and a member of the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission.

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