Scottish bishops respond to press reports of bullying by the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney

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The following statement has been issued today by the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church:

Following recent press coverage of alleged pastoral and governance issues within the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, we as the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church acknowledge that some in the Diocese have experienced deep distress. We express our concern for all involved and would like to make clear that anyone affected who feels harmed in any way is offered appropriate pastoral care, and that any allegations of misconduct are properly reported and handled. Pastoral support for anyone feeling harmed is our highest priority in these matters, and the support that was put in place at the start of the current mediation process remains available (details here)

The College has aimed to support the Diocese over issues reported in, and arising from, Prof Iain Torrance’s report on the Diocese. To help address disputes and re-establish positive relationships we have initiated a careful and sensitively handled process of mediation. This was put in place by an Episcopal Synod under Canon 53 in September 2021 and is being delivered by the professional and independent University of Dundee Early Dispute Resolution team. The internal workings of this mediation process are entirely confidential to the participants, but we are heartened to hear that the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney and a number of others in the Diocese have engaged with the process and we trust this is helping to achieve healing and reconciliation.

Mediation, we believe, can resolve many of the issues that arise in high conflict situations which can be experienced as bullying.

We are aware that a document with allegations largely related to governance issues in the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney has been submitted to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). A response from OSCR is awaited, and Diocesan officials have already indicated they will be happy to assist with any enquiries. The claims made are wide-ranging and go beyond governance itself. We reiterate that any allegations of misconduct against clergy of the Scottish Episcopal Church can and should be addressed through the church’s Complaints Procedure or Disciplinary Canonical process, details of which can be found at https://www.scotland.anglican.org/who-we-are/complaints-procedure/

It is very disappointing that such allegations are being made through repeated statements to the media at a time when OSCR is conducting due process.  This approach does not allow any of the parties involved to have a fair hearing or for any proper outcomes to be achieved. It also threatens both the successful completion of the mediation and also the integrity of any possible future process. We would strongly urge anyone with complaints either to engage with the mediation process or to submit allegations using the established processes of the church. The Mediation Steering Group can be contacted by email: MediationSteeringGroup@scotland.anglican.org

As members of the College we continue to appeal to all in the Church to act with restraint and respect for all involved in this ongoing dispute. Please also continue to pray for a just and fair outcome for all in this process.

1 July 2022