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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Dean of Llandaff resignation saga

Photo: Church Times

The reason for the Dean of Llandaff's resignation after only two months in post is as obscure now as it was when the announcement was made. At the time the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said that he would be making no further comment. Dr Morgan has commented in the June edition of the Llandaff Parish Magazine, The Bell, but there is no further clarity. He writes:

"... In the few weeks she [Janet Henderson] had been in our midst, she had, I know, endeared herself to many people. I also know that many of you had made her feel very welcome. Nevertheless, at a time such as this, one of the questions we, as a cathedral community as a whole, need to ask of ourselves is, what is it about our corporate life that can lead to a situation such as this? There are no easy or facile answers to that question but it is a question that we need to address. 
In the meantime, I ask you to remember Janet and Dave in your prayers. I also ask for your prayers for me as the Bishop and Archbishop as I ponder about what to do next...."

Speculation has revolved around a spat with members of the choir, since denied, and absurd mischief making about opposition to women, still perpetuated in the Thinking Anglicans blog despite the numerous women in the diocese and this comment from a parishioner:
"...There are intransigent problems with Llandaff that have arisen since 2000, due to previous appointments. [...] comments are singularly ill-informed, since the congregation - contrary to his picture of "rampant congregationalism" - actually have very little say in the running of the place. Any institution that lives wildly beyond its means and invests in white elephants whilst ignoring the pastoral needs of its congregation - and its wider mission - deserves to fail. ..." 

While this may suggest local infighting, the silence of the Archbishop and the former Dean suggests a personal spat followed by an agreement to say nothing. I am pleased to report that Dean Henderson has wisely moved on but what of the Cathedral, the diocese and the Church in Wales?

Dr Morgan poses the question: What is it about our [Cathedral] corporate life that can lead to a situation such as this? 

The Church in Wales Review [VIII] recommended  that The distinctive role of each cathedral as a centre of excellence should be fully integrated into the mission and ministry strategy of its Diocese. 
Commenting the Archbishop wrote:
"It makes clear, what we know already, that any cathedral is central to the life of the diocese in which it is set. Llandaff Cathedral as well as being a parish church is a place (like any other church, but with a special responsibility for it) of welcome, hospitality and friendship.  The Cathedral extends this to all the parishes of the diocese because it is  the diocesan church par excellence.  That dual role could lead to a conflict between the needs of parish and diocese.  That should never be the case, but rather should be embraced as a glorious opportunity to minister not just to the local community (the parish) but to the wider family of the diocese as well.  
That is why it is the Bishop’s church, the place where he has his chair – the place, in other words, where he has his home but the place from which he exercises oversight over the wider diocesan family.  And, it is in my capacity as Bishop, that I have decided to exercise direct oversight over the Cathedral for the time being.[My emphasis - Ed.]

If the Cathedral is to be truly 'central to the life of the diocese' its 'corporate life' should not be a cause for speculation. What is clear is that under Dr Morgan's watch the Church in Wales is in a downward spiral. His alignment with the discredited Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is a cause of great concern to orthodox Christians. In asking for our prayers for him as the Bishop and Archbishop as he ponders about what to do next, many will be praying that he will be considering his position, contemplating retirement to leave the way open for a more orthodox leadership based on the Gospel rather than on political popularity.


  1. Ben Ritchie-Hook21 May 2013 at 23:35

    I agree, it is time for the Archbishop to go. He is no longer a figure of unity for the diocese and province but rather the cause of division and discord. He makes a total dog’s dinner of everything he touches. He is a spent force. A delegation of senior clergy should have a quite word with him about retiring with dignity before any further damage is done. Alternatively, motions of no confidence in him should be laid before the Diocesan Conference and Governing Body. Time to go Barry!

  2. 'You [Barry Morgan] have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!'

  3. Fireman Sam, Pontypandy22 May 2013 at 07:33

    Bishop Barrieee needs to retire now!

  4. Gervase Crouchback22 May 2013 at 09:26

    A source high up in the Representative Body on Cathedral Road refused to deny claims that plans were being drawn up to manage an interregnum when a ‘very senior’ position shortly becomes vacant in the Province. Read in to that what you will.

    1. 'The double minded man is unstable in all his ways'.

      James 1: 8

    2. Peter Pirbright24 May 2013 at 14:01

      That is interesting because two gentlemen of equestrian rank were overheard talking on the Green. Both had been asked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission to supply a reference for a certain Prelate. Who nominated said Prelate is uncertain. But this may be return-the-favour-time after a particular Lord Spiritual, whose former diocese was in middle England, was given a plumb job chairing a notorious Review. Perhaps the Noble Lord of Pentregarth feels duty bound to find a way for His Grace of Llandaff to join him wrapped in ermine?

    3. One of those knights errant of the Green hinted that he had been sounded out by a mate at Grand Lodge, who does something with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, about whether the assistant-prelate in this diocese might make a good outside candidate for the vacancy at Durham. Now that would mean a reet good clear out in Llandaff and the chance for a new start.

  5. A certain person way, way in the deep, deep South had a dream the other night and in the dream all he could see was golf course after golf course after golf...... of unimaginable beauty. The green was more green than created green. It was, as they say, out of this world. The dreamer utilizes religious language in his mutterings, such as 'heaven', 'sweetness and light', which awaken his wife. She nudges him into reality. 'Did I marry a mystic; my dear, dear Machiavelli?" "Let me be, darling." as he drifts with effortless ease... of golf course after golf course after golzzzz Ah!. His wife is about to give him a good prod when he shouts with strange sadness. "I have been to heaven. Retirement! Here I come!"
    Friends of humankind, pray that the dream will come true.

  6. Ben Ritchie-Hook25 May 2013 at 16:23

    A little barstool gossip for you last evening from a well known hostelry near the Cathedral Green. A member of the cathedral congregation heard from a reliable source linked to the Palace that Our Lord of Llandaff wanted Madam Dean to say that her untimely departure was for ‘personal reasons’. Alas for his Lordship the honourable Madam Dean had more integrity than her boss and refused to allow him to write her resignation statement. The plot thickens. What had she discovered about Llandaff in her two months in office that she felt made her position untenable? It’s time for more honest answers Your Grace.

  7. Ahh....! Benny boy, we forget to ones peril that:

    'A thief comes to kill steal and destroy'.

  8. Here is another good tale that a source close to the Palace has refused to deny. Early on in her time at Llandaff Madam Dean was told a few home truths about the Cathedral setup by the long suffering Cathedral Administrator. Barry of Llandaff had done such a good job at selling the Deanery to her that at first she thought His Grace beyond reproach and the Administrator had his own agenda to promote and his position to defend. So the Administrator was summoned into His Grace’s presence for a right episcopal dressing down and summary dismissal. Wow, that made His Lordship feel so wonderful that he could still exercise such absolute power! However, as time went on the dear honourable Madam Dean came to learn that the Administrator was right in his assessment, the Cathedral affairs are in a total mess. The wrong man had gone. It’s so ironic that after her honourable resignation that His Grace came begging to the ex-Administrator to come back and steer the good ship Llandaff again – albeit fatally holed below the waterline and slowly sinking.

    1. Are you talking about the "old Turk"?

  9. If she was the dean how could the Arch fire the administrator, this sounds all a bit too fishy, this would be up to the dean and chapter. all this is just gossip and speculation

    1. The question put by Archbishop Barry was, "What is it about our corporate life that can lead to a situation such as this?"
      Secrecy leads to speculation. As my stats show (three entries already in the top 10 posts) there is intense interest in what is happening in the mother church of the diocese, indeed at the heart of the Province of Wales. A little honesty is required since the comments also show a distinct lack of support for the Archbishop.