NZ bishop apologizes for bungled ecclesiastical investigation

Bishop Andrew Hedge apologizes to the Dean of Waiapu for deposing him for adultery

A New Zealand bishop has apologized to a clergyman whom he suspended for misconduct, but who was later cleared by an appellate tribunal after it found the bishop had bungled the investigation. On 11 Dec 2014, the Rt Rev Andrew Hedge, Bishop of Waiapu, (pictured) released a statement expressing his “sincere regret” to the former Dean of Waiapu Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, the Very Rev. Michael Godfrey. On 4 May 2016 Bishop Hedge suspended the license of Drl 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 the appellate tribunal set “aside in its entirety the determination of Bishop Hedge dated 4 May 2016.”  In his Sunday letter Bishop Hedge acknowledged the tribunal found four “substantive and procedural shortcomings” that resulted in a miscarriage of justice. Though restored to office, Dr. Godfrey has announced that he will be leaving the cathedral in January in order to pursue other ministry options. “ Bishop Andrew has indicated his support and blessing to Dr Godfrey as he moves forward. Bishop Andrew and Dr. Godfrey will not be making any public comment on the matter,” a diocesan statement said.


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