|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.