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Church News

Archbishop of Wales apologises for decision which 'left numerous people vulnerable and damaged'

by Heather Preston

The Archbishop of Wales has released a statement of apology following a review into the retirement of the former Bishop of Monmouth.

Rt Rev Richard Pain stepped back from his duties in 2018 after concerns were raised about his ministry and conduct. 

He retired the following year.

Two inquiries were launched to investigate harassment and bullying policies and his responsibilities and relationships with his senior team. 

Following these probes, it was concluded no further action should be taken.

An enquiry and review into the circumstances around Pain's retirement and how the investigations were handled was launched in May 2020.

Commissioners, newly appointed Archbishop of Wales, Most Rev Andy John and former chairman of the Church in Wales' representative body, James Turner, released a statement of apology alongside the reports publication on Monday.

"We wish to express our sorrow and regret that what could have been an opportunity to attend well to a challenging situation became ruinous and distressing and left numerous people vulnerable and damaged. 

"This has not reflected well on the Church in Wales and for that we apologize unreservedly to all those wounded by our failures."

The overview highlights concerns over a lack of specialist legal advice, poor communication and inconsistency in processes across the two investigations and a failure to revisit and scrutinize each reports' conclusions and recommendations.

The review states that "in both cases the conclusions reached were that the evidentiary threshold for further action had not been met.

In a previous statement regarding the absence of the Bishop of Monmouth, the Church in Wales said: "In recent weeks there has been speculation regarding the Bishop of Monmouth and about relationships in his senior team. The Archbishop of Wales is aware of these issues and remains actively engaged, with all parties, in a formal process of mediation which seeks to resolve them.’’

The review acknowledges that this statement was "misleading and inappropriate" and that the publication of parts of the mediation process "gave substance to the rumour now embedded in the diocese that the Bishop’s absence was entirely a matter of broken relationships."

Most Revd Andrew John and James Turner joint statement reads: "An organisation must have processes which are fit for purpose. Legitimate concerns must be treated seriously and expedited quickly and in a way that does not damage those who raise such concerns. 

"The report with its recommendations that we are publishing today will, if acted upon, go some way towards improving our processes. They require changes not only to the regulations with which we operate but also to the quality of training provided. 

"Changing a culture requires a concerted effort, combining preventative interventions and setting aspirational goals which foster new expectations in the ministerial workplace. These must have secure boundaries and require high levels of accountability. 

"There are implications, too, for the way senior clergy are supported within a tighter framework of mentoring and review. We are also conscious that we must ensure that, even where investigations are not led by the safeguarding team, the team are enabled to contribute to ongoing processes and be kept up-to-date."

The Church in Wales says it is committed to implementing the reviews recommendations quickly and comprehensively.

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