Dean Of Exeter Retires After Fierce Row With His Bishop


Exeter Cathedral is in 'acute' financial difficulties with three staff facing redundancy.Wiki

The Dean of Exeter cathedral is retiring after being described as 'remote and disinterested' in a fierce row with his bishop.

Jonathan Draper, who sees himself as a 'big picture thinker', is on sabbatical until he officially retires in August.

The Cathedral is in 'acute' financial difficulties after embarking on a series of expensive projects including a failed £8.7million plan to restore the Roman baths on the site. Last week it emerged three cathedral staff were at risk of redundancy in the face of a £175,000 shortfall.

'In recent months Exeter Cathedral has been on a journey of self-evaluation and change', a statement read on Sunday. 'That process has raised some challenging issues, not least financial. While some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead.

'In that context, and having reached the age of 65 last month, after considerable thought and reflection the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year.'

The announcement comes after an independent report in September found Draper 'appears not to listen to advice, even from senior colleagues'.

It continues: 'The dean appears to have little interest in the more mundane running of the cathedral.

'He does little to encourage staff and seems to have little contact with many regular members of the congregation who claim to find him remote and disinterested.'

At the time the Bishop of Exeter Robert Atwell said: 'Although an excellent preacher, the visitors were repeatedly informed that the lack of spiritual leadership and pastoral care emanates from the dean himself.'

In a statement on Sunday announcing Draper's retirement, the bishop is quoted having a more reconciliatory tone: 'Under Jonathan's leadership the Cathedral has reached out to many within the city and county, and is known as a place of generous hospitality and welcome. Jonathan has been a friend to many and is respected as a thoughtful and imaginative preacher who has not been afraid to engage with contemporary issues.

'Like many other cathedrals, Exeter has faced a number of challenges in recent years. With the support of the Chapter, Jonathan has had to take tough decisions for the long-term good of the Cathedral.'

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