24 March 2021
Following recent claims made on blogs and social media
Several misleading statements, misunderstandings, and untruths have been circulating on blogs and social media in recent days concerning the Dean of Christ Church, Martyn Percy.
A letter from the Sub Dean of Christ Church, published today, corrects a number of the untruths that appeared online. The text of the letter is reproduced below. We continue to hold this situation, and all involved, in our prayers.
In these difficult pandemic times we are all missing each other. It is very hard to have such limits on our ability to gather in person. As a relative newcomer I’m sad that there are many of you I am yet to meet.
This is all the harder given the difficulties in which we find ourselves due to the situation with the Dean. Obviously much about this is and should remain confidential.
That said, the case has been widely reported in the media and discussed online, almost entirely by people a long way removed from the situation. Please be aware that many of the ‘facts’ you may have seen reported are inaccurate.
You will be aware from reports in the media that the Dean is currently unwell. I have been shocked and saddened by some of the recent speculation about the lack of care for Martyn and Emma during recent months. It is time to set the record straight.
As is widely known, a complaint was made against the Dean about an alleged incident of sexual harassment last October. I’m sure you will agree that it is right that this should be fully investigated, for the sake of all involved.
While the case is ongoing the Dean has stepped away from ministerial duties, as is standard practice. It is also entirely normal practice that, for now, he has been asked to not to enter the Cathedral for services. I have offered to make arrangements for the Dean to visit the Cathedral to pray privately.
Undertaking a risk assessment is a routine but essential aspect of handling any complaint of this nature. However, in posts on a handful of blogs and on social media this has been grossly distorted in order to cast doubt on the process. For example, any suggestion that the Dean was prevented from meeting members of his family alone is simply untrue.
Of course it is right and proper that all those involved in this painful situation are offered pastoral care. In conversation with the Bishop’s office, Chapter has ensured that this is provided. A senior member of the clergy has been in regular contact with Martyn and Emma since the complaint was first made. Other forms of support have also been offered and taken up by them.
Throughout all this, I have encouraged friends and colleagues to make contact with the Percys to offer love and support and prayer in what must be an extraordinarily difficult situation.
It was recently suggested that the Dean was refused Communion. I can confirm that this is absolutely not the case. We have made a number of suggestions to enable Martyn to continue to receive Communion, as we all want him to be able to do. None of us would wish to be deprived of receiving this means of grace.
You will appreciate that it is just as important that we support the complainant. To do otherwise would be unkind and failing in our duty of care. It might also discourage people from properly reporting any such incident in future, which none of us would want. Be assured that we will continue to provide the pastoral care she needs.
We are all acutely aware of the Dean’s absence from the Cathedral. This is a matter of sadness and pain for all those who value Martyn’s ministry.
I appreciate that many of you are distressed by all this. We are in the process of arranging a meeting with Bishop Steven which will offer members of the congregation a chance to talk more. Meanwhile, do feel free to contact any of the clergy if you would welcome a conversation.
Please be assured that we pray daily in the Cathedral for Martyn and Emma, the complainant, and all those concerned and will continue to do so.
In this trying set of circumstances please be assured of our prayers. All of us who live and work here are grateful for yours.
Fr Richard Peers – Sub Dean
9 January 2021 (updated 13 January)
Following further media reports, the Diocese has issued this statement:
Bishop Steven continues to hold the difficult situation at Christ Church in prayer and, where possible, is in regular contact with all involved. We are disappointed that anyone should seek to downplay the severity of the complaint. It is entirely right that allegations against clergy and church officers are properly investigated when they are made, and all parties supported — particularly those who have brought the complaint.
Christ Church Oxford is unique as a dual foundation comprising both College and Cathedral. In November last year, the Bishop of Oxford agreed with the Very Revd Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, that Martyn would step back from office while a complaint, which was brought to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), is investigated. The complaint is also being considered by Christ Church, in accordance with their internal processes and statutes. It is a separate process and independent of the Church.
19 November 2020 Following media reports, our statement is updated as follows:
We are disappointed that those seeking to support the Dean are reportedly trying to downplay the severity of the complaint. Such actions belittle the complainant and only add to the distress of anyone else considering a complaint against someone in a senior position. The complaint, which has been brought to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure, will be properly and thoroughly investigated.
18 November 2020
The Bishop of Oxford has agreed with the Very Revd Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, that Martyn will step back from office, while a complaint is properly considered.
Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean of the Cathedral is also Head of an Oxford College. Christ Church has written to students and staff with the following statement. The statement has also been shared with the Cathedral congregation and those at the Cathedral School.
“The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral. Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.”
The Bishop of Oxford is in close contact with all concerned. His prayers, and those of the Diocese, are with everyone at Christ Church.