Welsh bishops dismiss complaints against homophobia as 'without merit'

The Church in Wales has dismissed three complaints following allegations of homophobia after a senior gay cleric was rejected as Bishop of Llandaff.

Very Rev Jeffrey John, currently Dean of St Albans, won more than half the support of the electoral body and unanimous support from church figures in the area, Christian Today revealed, but narrowly missed out on the two-thirds of votes he needed to be appointed.

WikipediaThe electoral body met in Llandaff Cathedral for three days but failed to elect a candidate despite Jeffrey John winning more than half the vote and unanimous support from local representatives

Bishops refused to take his name forward for further consideration and allegations emerged of homophobic remarks being made by electors against Dr John.

Three complaints were lodged about the process, including one by five members of the electoral body who witnessed the debate.

But the Church in Wales dismissed all three as 'without merit' and strongly denied the allegations of homophobia.

The Church appointed legal subcommittee to investigate the complaints chaired by Judge Andrew Keyser QC. In a 16-page document on the complaints he ruled 'the proper course' now is to appoint a new bishop. Dr John is barred from further consideration.

Responding to the advice, the Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd, said: 'I am very grateful to the legal subcommittee for their thorough and prompt examination of the complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff. I can now confirm that proper procedure has been followed and there are no grounds for the complaints submitted. This means the Bench of Bishops can continue its task of appointing the new bishop without further delay.'

The firm rejection of all the complaints came at the same time as Welsh bishops wrote a furious letter to the Church Times, the Church of England's independent newspaper, accusing it of being 'ill-informed, unbalanced, and little short of grossly disrespectful'.

It comes after the paper ran a comment piece accusing the failure to appoint Dr John as a 'serious wrong' and 'public scandal'.

In an angry response five Welsh bishops wrote: 'We end by dealing with your accusation that a huge injustice has been perpetrated, and we reject it, as we do your hasty judgement that one candidate in particular failed to be elected and for one reason, namely his sexuality.'