The Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church has stripped an Anglican cleric from the Diocese of Natal of his status as a priest after his conviction for sexual harassment.
The Synod resolved at a meeting last week to confirm a sentence of “degradation” on the former Revd Roland Prince. The sentence was imposed by a disciplinary tribunal of the Diocese of Natal in July.
In the language of the church’s Canons (church law), a sentence of degradation “deposes from Holy Orders” a priest, meaning he or she can no longer perform the ministry of a cleric.
Degradation is the most serious disciplinary action that can be taken against an Anglican priest under the church law. As a result, the Canons require the sentence to be confirmed by the Synod of Bishops, which comprises bishops from across Southern Africa.
The sentence removes a priest’s right to be referred to as “Reverend”.
Mr Prince was convicted under the Canons of: sexual harassment, conducting himself in “a sexually immoral manner”, and involving himself in “inappropriate relationships and activities which gave just cause for scandal or offence.”
In April a board of preliminary inquiry recommended that charges be brought against him. He resigned at the end of that month. The disciplinary tribunal sat in July. Two days after Mr Prince confirmed he would attend, he indicated on the day of the tribunal he would not attend. The tribunal went ahead in his absence.
Mr Prince’s name will now be placed on a register maintained by the church’s Safe and Inclusive Church Commission to ensure that he cannot be licensed as a priest in any other diocese of the Anglican Church.
The victims worked at or were associated with workers at the church in which Mr Prince served. In order to protect the identity of his victims, no details of the case which may lead to them being identified will be revealed.