Visitation team finds a culture of bullying at Sheffield Cathedral

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The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield, has today [19 March 2021] published his ‘Determination’ to the Cathedral Chapter, following the Visitation he commissioned at Sheffield Cathedral.

The Determination is the formal and final outcome of the Visitation which Bishop Pete announced on 1 November 2020. An independent Visitation Team focussed on seven areas of Cathedral life, meeting with individuals and looking at policies and procedures.  The report of the Visitation Team remains confidential to the Bishop, though he has shared it with the members of the Cathedral Chapter.  The Determination, including the Bishop’s directions to the Chapter, is a matter of public record.

READ: A DETERMINATION BY THE BISHOP OF SHEFFIELD

Bishop Pete has said: 

“Next week we will mark the anniversary of the first lockdown.  On account of the pandemic, the past twelve months have been a desperately difficult and distressing experience for everyone.  But for those of us associated with Sheffield Cathedral, there have been additional challenges and hurts.  My earnest hope and prayer is that the publication of this Determination will enable the whole Cathedral community to move ahead with renewed hope, as together we seek to realise the Cathedral’s calling under God to be ‘a place for all people’ in the city and Diocese of Sheffield.  I look forward to working closely with the Cathedral Chapter to this end.”

The Acting Dean, the Revd Canon Geoffrey Harbord and the Cathedral Chapter has also issued a statement in response to the publication: 

“We very much welcome Bishop Pete’s Determination following the Visitation process at Sheffield Cathedral.

“The Visitation took place during a demanding period for our community. The impact of the pandemic has been profound and has only exacerbated the difficulties in the areas of the Cathedral’s life which the Visitation sought to address.

“The Bishop rightly points out that the Determination overlooks or downplays the many successful and valued aspects of the Cathedral’s life. Whilst there are many challenging words for us, we agree that the seven areas focused on are right and correct against this backdrop.

“As is highlighted in the Determination, in many of the areas identified we are already making positive and constructive progress. Safeguarding has been enhanced, and we are in the process of rebuilding our capacity to deliver on our financial aims. We also look forward to developing a clear vision for the Cathedral with the new Dean, including reviewing the place of music in the Cathedral’s life.

More, however, needs to be done by us all as we learn the lessons from the past. The directions outlined in the Determination give us the guidance, foundation and focus to drive forward further change that will strengthen and enhance our community. We accept the directions in full.

“We will be open and transparent as we travel through this journey.  As the Bishop noted, the Cathedral is blessed with a wealth of good-hearted and selfless servants.  We are all here, largely as volunteers, to serve – and create a community and environment that is a place for all people.

“This Determination is an important milestone as we seek to deliver on that ambition. We will build on our strengths and learn from our collective mistakes to create a stronger future for Sheffield Cathedral. We look forward to doing this in partnership with our Bishop and the new Dean.”

The Very Revd David Monteith, Chair of the College of Deans of the Church of England and The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals have also commented:

“The community and staff of Sheffield Cathedral have been in the prayers of Deans and Cathedrals across England. Cathedrals are endlessly complex yet they are vital within both church and society, so we pledge our combined wisdom to all at Sheffield as healing is now sought. This Visitation and Determination now enables lessons to be learnt and a new phase of loving service to emerge.”