Adultery ban overturned

NZ ecclesiastical tribunal reverses bishop’s ban on the Dean of Napier Cathedral.

A New Zealand ecclesiastical court has reversed the decision by the Bishop of Waiapu to suspend the Dean of Waiapu Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, on a “historic matter of behavior. On 4 May 2016 the Rt. Rev. Andrew Hedge suspended the license of the Very Rev. Michael Godfrey after learning the dean had engaged in an extramarital affair with an 18-year old woman while living in Australia in 1991. In May a diocesan spokesman said the decision was “ the outcome of a church disciplinary process for a historic matter of behaviour, unrelated to the Diocese of Waiapu, deemed to be a breach of church canons, rather than illegal, and not expected of a priest in the Anglican Church.” However, Dean Godfrey told local newspapers his indiscretion had been no secret. He had confessed to his wife and his bishop in Australia at the time of his misconduct. “My feeling is that there hasn’t been due process or natural justice in terms of the process of dismissal,” he said. However the diocese responded that while the Australian diocese may have known of the affair, “it is the first that his bishop, now in New Zealand, has heard of it”. Dr. Godfrey appealed the bishop’s ruling and last month the appellate tribunal set “aside in its entirety the determination of Bishop Hedge dated 4 May 2016 … As a consequence of the appeal tribunal’s determination of this appeal, the outcomes of deprivation and admonishment must be revoked and Dr Godfrey restored forthwith to office and ministry.” Dr. Godfrey declined to comment on the decision. Diocesan spokesman Jayson Rhodes told local reporters: “The church is committed to sitting down with Michael and talking this through, but it won’t be publicly.”

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