David Page Capitulates

Remember this? It’s all over bar the counting.

Press Release – Diocese of Chichester

Acting Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby in June received a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 that the Rev David Page had over a protracted period exercised his ministry as a priest in the parish of Winchelsea without holding the Bishop’s Permission to Officiate (PTO) and that the then incumbent, Canon Howard Cox had given his consent to this. Both the clergy concerned have admitted this misconduct and the matter has been brought to an agreeable conclusion.

Whilst there is no suggestion whatsoever that David Page or Howard Cox have ever behaved inappropriately with children or vulnerable adults, the Church relies upon the upholding of its disciplines relating to PTO in order to fulfil its obligations in respect of safeguarding.

Now that this complaint has been resolved the acting diocesan bishop has granted David Page Permission to Officiate which he hopes will be welcomed by the parish and people of Winchelsea.

So, to summarise:

  • Page and Cox admit their misconduct and that it was wrong to permit Page to officiate in Winchelsea without the Bishop’s permission.
  • Given that the original denial of a PTO was because Page would not give assurances about his sex life to Bishop Benn, it can be inferred that Page has now given such assurances to Bishop Mark. If he has done so then that means he is either willingly adhering to the national guidelines on the issue or he is lying. One suspects the first because the second would be very silly.

That wraps that up then. The Diocese of Chichester’s position remains the same and no ground-breaking earth-shattering change in CofE policy is imminent after all. Looking forward to what Changing Attitude have to say about it…


No sooner had I put finger to keyboard then Changing Attitude have their response. Very interesting that whilst they assert that this case will dissuade Bishops from asking the legally allowable and indeed required questions of some clergy as to their sexual conduct, they skip over the fact that Page has had to agree to be celibate to get his PTO. Nice spinning Colin…

8 Comments on “David Page Capitulates

  1. Which inside informant has told you that the Revd David Page told Bishop Mark Sowerby that he has assured the bishop that he is and will continue to be celibate, David? You claim that David may have lied – that’s a serious accusation to even suggest.

    • Read me very carefully again Colin. I said that “it can be inferred” that Page has agreed to celibacy. *If* he has done that (given assurances about his sex life) then consequentially he is either doing what he said OR not (in which case he would have lied to the Bishop). I have not accused him of lying, I have merely spelt out the various options. As a rule I tend to take people at their word.

      Of course if you want to assert that no such undertakings have been given to Bishop Mark then please do make such a claim in public. *That* would be a story…

      • Peter, no such undertakings about the sex life of David Page were asked for or given – okay? You are pursuing a personal, conservative evangelical obsession. You are doing the inferring. There is nothing in the press release from which you could even begin to draw such an inference.

        • So let’s be absolutely clear. Neither at the “interview” or before-hand were any assurances given. Neither was there any communication between the parties that the prior offering of assurances to Wally Benn when the PRO was first reapplied for earlier this year was to be taken as given?
          If all that is true then you are essentially alleging that Bishop Mark did not follow the agreed national practice in the 2005 House of Bishop pastoral statement. Now that would be a story…

        • And less of the “personal, conservative evangelical obsession” unless of course you are implying that all the Bishops who signed (and practice) the Pastoral Statement are obsessed with this as well.

  2. Peter, are there not two further possible alternatives? (And any pedant who thinks of telling me that alternatives can’t be more than two should consult Fowler’s “Modern English Usage”.)

    1. That Page has given no such assurances about his sex life to Bishop Mark because the latter has said that, unlike Bishop Benn, he doesn’t really want to know.

    2. That Page has told Bishop Mark that he is not at present celibate, or that he is but doesn’t necessarily undertake to remain so, and Bishop Mark has said that that’s fine by him.

    I only say POSSIBLE alternatives, because I obviously have no idea what the actual facts are.

      • I have no intention of asking the Bishop’s office because I don’t actually need to know, and I fail to understand why anyone else would find the information useful. And in any case, if I did telephone to the Bishop’s office, they would, I hope, politely inform me that the matter was none of my concern.

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