Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal Decision: Re Gomes – penalty

On 27 October 2016, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Sodor and Man handed down the judgment concerning the conduct of the Revd Dr Canon Jules Francis Paulinus Gomes, reviewed here. On 11 January 2017, the Church of England published the Tribunal’s decision regarding the penalty.

Judgment

Dr Gomes had, by letter dated 31 December 2015, resigned his offices in the Diocese and after 31 March 2016 ceased to hold any office in the Diocese. However, he remained a priest in Holy Orders and therefore remained subject to the jurisdiction of the Clergy Disciplinary Measures. The hearing before the Disciplinary Tribunal took place on 19-20 October 2016.

On 27 October 2016, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Sodor and Man handed down the judgment: “In the matter of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 as it has effect in the Isle of Man by virtue of the Clergy Discipline Measure (Isle of Man) 2005; In the matter of a complaint by the Ven Andrew Brown, Archdeacon of Man, concerning the conduct of the Revd Dr Canon Jules Francis Paulinus Gomes”.

The Archdeacon`s complaint was that the Respondent had engaged in conduct that was unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of the clergy [1 to 4]. The Tribunal concluded that the conduct of the Respondent was unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders [115-116]:

“…Firstly, in exercising a need on his part to assert his authority and with an over-inflated view of his own self-importance, the Respondent has dealt with people with little or no compassion or pastoral concern. Secondly, the Respondent has lost his temper and displayed anger, even to those who continued to support him. Thirdly, in his behaviour he has caused serious harm to people and has caused them to leave their offices or his church. Fourthly, he does not seem to understand the need to express remorse or amend his ways. Fifthly, he has made untrue statements against Revd Erica Scott, the Archdeacon and the Bishop. We have no doubt that such behaviour on the part of the Respondent has damaged the reputation of the Church”.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, issued a statement on 7 November supportive of the tribunal’s decision.

Penalty Hearing

Although notified of the penalty hearing, Dr Gomes elected not to attend or to make any submissions as to the appropriate penalty. However, after the Determination was delivered, he rejected the Tribunal’s findings and on 28 October 2016 gave a radio interview in which he described the Bishop as “a vindictive Bishop, [who] was a laughing stock all over England” and he accused the Church of England of using “its sharia law” to block democracy, by which he meant to prevent a petition of doléance being made against the Bishop”.

[“A petition of doléance is the process by which the High Court exercises its supervisory jurisdiction over the proceedings and decisions of inferior courts, tribunals and other bodies or persons who carry out quasi-judicial functions or who are charged with the performance of public acts and duties,” per Deemster Kerruish QC, In Re Malew Parish Commrs [2001] 03 MLR 129 at paragraph 105. A detailed consideration is given by Lucy Marsh-Smith in A very particular remedy: Doléance in the Crown Dependencies, Jersey & Guernsey Law Review, June 2011]

The Tribunal observed:

“Clergy of the Church of England are called upon to set a high standard of moral behaviour. The reputation of the Church in the community depends to a great extent on the example of its clergy, who should recognize their role as public representatives of the Church. Their lives should enhance and embody the communication of the gospel” [11].

It cited two cases in support of this principle: Re Revd David King [2008] Chancery Court of York and Re Revd David Gilmore [2011] Court of Arches.

In the former case, the Chancery Court of York “observed that the reputation of the church community was far more important that the personal interests of any individual member of the clergy on whom a penalty was imposed”. Although Gilmore was a case of sexual misconduct, its comments on the high moral standard required of the clergy and its impact on the reputation of the Church in the community were considered equally applicable in the instant case.

Had Dr Gomes not resigned his office, the Tribunal suggested that it would have been appropriate that he be removed from office with immediate effect [15]. Given his reaction to the Determination and his absence of remorse, in the light of their findings, the Tribunal saw “little realistic possibility of ever being able to resume the normal duties of a Church of England priest even with appropriate pastoral and other support” [16]. The appropriate penalty for his misconduct was deemed to be one of prohibition for 10 years; in addition, it was ordered that his name was to be entered on the Archbishops’ List [17-18].

Footnote

S 38 Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, as amended, places a duty of the Archbishops acting jointly to compile and maintain a list of all clerks in Holy Orders, inter alia, on whom a penalty or censure (by consent or otherwise) has been imposed under the Measure or the 1963 Measure: see Clergy blacklists, blue files and the Archbishops’ List.

The penalties applicable are dependent upon the facts of the case, and Guidance on Penalties under the CDM has been produced by the Clergy Discipline Commission. In the cases cited, the Revd David King was prohibited from exercising any of the functions of his orders for a period of four years, and the removal from any office or preferment he held; for Revd David Gilmore, the Court of Arches concluded that a period of prohibition of two years was appropriate [48].

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal Decision: Re Gomes – penalty" in Law & Religion UK, 12 January 2017, http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2017/01/12/bishops-disciplinary-tribunal-decision-re-gomes-penalty/

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