There’s been a rebuff today for Stephen Doughty – the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and 9 other MPs who have complained to the Church of Wales about its decision not to appoint a homosexual cleric – Dr Jeffrey John – as Bishop of Llandaff.
Doughty – who is himself gay – had joined with fellow MPs Madeleine Moon, Carolyn Harris, Nia Griffiths, Chris Elmore, Chris Bryant, Chris Evans, Wayne David, and Gerald Jones in urging the Church to “rethink” its decision to reject Dr John.
It’s been reported that Dr John was “blocked” from becoming a bishop amid allegations of “homophobia” . Dr John, who is currently Dean of St Alban’s Cathedral, is reported to have said the only reason his nomination was rejected was his “sexuality”.
The MPs wrote to the Church in Wales claiming the process for appointing the new Bishop of Llandaff was what they described as “flawed” and alleging that it had led to what they called “considerable disharmony, anger and confusion”. The 9 MPs –including Doughty – had claimed that they had “‘heard from many quarters’ of concerns over “homophobia” and were demanding that a new vote be carried out.
The unappointed candidate – Dr John himself – is said to have claimed that “a number of homophobic remarks”‘ were made against him during the appointment process – and that bishops were ‘just too exhausted‘ to deal with the problems which they thought his appointment would bring about.
The MPs – including Doughty – queried that point in their letter – saying “We are of the opinion that ‘”exhaustion”‘ cannot be acceptable as a reason not to appoint someone eminently qualified and what we are informed was the unanimous choice of the electors of Llandaff.”
Today the Electoral College of the Church in Wales has hit back saying “We are satisfied that the Electoral College process was carried out properly and fairly. We will not comment on speculation about the nomination and discussion of candidates.”
The Church statement also empaphatically dismisses the allegations that there was “homophobia in the process” . It says “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.”
The Church has today also ruled out the MPs’ plea to reconsider its rejection Dr John – saying “The appointment process [ for the new Bishop of Llandaff] is underway and we see no reason to halt it.”