Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bishop of Exeter slams Cathedral Dean for lack of spiritual leadership

The Bishop of Exeter has castigated the Dean of Exeter in a report that condemns him as "remote and disinterested".

Bishop of Exeter Robert Atwell acknowledges in a visitation report of Exeter Cathedral that Dean Jonathan Draper, appointed in 2012, has built successfully on existing relationships in the region.

Draper has also been strongly supportive of minorities.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with energy and imagination, school parties explore its history, and on Wednesday nights the Cathedral's kitchen reaches out to the homeless.

But there is a "lack of spiritual leadership and pastoral care" that emanates from the Dean himself, the report says.

The tension among the clergy is affecting worship, it continues.

The Dean claims to be a "big picture" thinker, but appears not to listen to advice, even from senior colleagues, the report says.

It also criticises his lack of interest in the "mundane" aspects of running a cathedral.

The report says regular members of the congregation find him remote and disinterested.

On top of this, Exeter cathedral has "acute" financial problems because it has no large endowments.

The report concludes: "We do not believe that the cathedral can continue to function adequately on the present basis given the financial and other challenges it faces until and unless the failures in leadership and poor management identified during the course of the visitation are addressed satisfactorily."

In a joint statement, the Bishop and Dean said: "The directions in the Charge lay down a clear path for the Cathedral to follow over the coming months and they have been welcomed by the Dean and Chapter. We are committed to continuing to work together to ensure the Cathedral remains at the heart of the spiritual and cultural life of the city and the wider county."

The Dean of Exeter recently had to apologise after posting critical tweets about Christians who supported Brexit. 

In one tweet he wrote: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."

A previous castigation of cathedral clergy was in 1330 when the bishop at the time condemned irreverent behaviour, when the clergy "knowingly and purposely throwing drippings or snuffings from their candles" on the heads of the choirboys in the stalls below "with the purpose of exciting laughter".

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