Second complaint over 'abusive and derogatory' comments against gay cleric as pressure builds on Church in Wales
A second complaint has been lodged as pressure builds over alleged homophobia by the Church in Wales after a senior gay cleric was blocked from being appointed a bishop.
Jeffrey John, currently Dean of St Albans cathedral, won more than half the votes in the electoral body but failed to secure the two-thirds necessary to be appointed Bishop of Llandaff. His name was then barred from further consideration despite unanimous support from local church leaders in the diocese.
Now four senior members from the decision-making standing committee in Llandaff have filed an official complaint after allegations of homophobic remarks against Dr John during the election process were revealed by Christian Today.
The comments were 'abusive and derogatory, demeaning their relationship and sexuality' and went unchecked by the body's chair, a source told Christian Today.
Asked about the complaint a Church spokeswoman confirmed: 'We have received a complaint from four members of the Standing Committee of the Llandaff Diocesan Conference. The complaint is not on behalf of the Standing Committee.
'It has been referred to the Legal Sub Committee which is a body in the Church in Wales assembled to consider legal and governance matters.
'It is too early to say whether the deliberations of the Legal Sub Committee will have any effect on the timing of an announcement.'
The second complaint will further raise tensions and comes after a separate objection was made by five members who were present at the electoral college.
The electors said the remarks 'prejudiced' Dr John and made the whole process 'invalid'.
In a letter to the Church's most senior executive Simon Lloyd, they wrote: 'We object to the raising at electoral college of the matter of sexuality or civil partnership status, in direct contravention of the Church in Wales's own policy that sexuality or civil partnership status is not a bar to appointment as a Bishop.
'We consider that this action was deeply inappropriate, and prejudiced the electoral college proceedings so as to render them invalid.'
Both complaints will now be investigated by a legal committee in the Church and the appointment may be on hold until the investigation is complete.
In response to the first complaint Mr Lloyd said: 'The timescale is a matter for the Legal Sub-committee and is dependent upon the amount of analysis required and how many times they need to meet. The deliberations of the Committee cannot and should not be hurried.'
The Church in Wales has strongly denied the allegations of homophobia and that Dr John was blocked.
A statement from the Church read: 'Neither homosexuality nor participation in a civil partnership are a bar to any candidate being either nominated or elected as a Bishop in the Church in Wales. Moreover, this was made clear to members of the Electoral College by its President, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.'