A FEMININE vicar accused of bullying choristers has claimed she is the victim of sexism and an “immoral” marketing campaign in opposition to her after a bishop ordered her to apologise.
The Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington, 64, alleged that the Bishop of Norwich, the precise Rev Graham Usher, had taken the aspect of “a small circle of white, rich, strongly interconnected men” rather than assisting his personal clergy.
The vicar has been accused of bullying a choir at a 12th century church and in November used to be ordered by means of her bishop to apologise to everyone who complained approximately her.
String of proceedings
She has confronted a string of complaints approximately her meant “authoritarian style” considering that taking on her position at Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk, 4 years in the past.
They come with claims that she assaulted a chorister after banning her from the choir and reversed her truck into a parked car within the car park, inflicting a “six-inch-long gash” prior to driving away.
The vicar has in the past argued she was bullied via the choristers, who were “anti-girl priests”.
Then Again, the vicar introduced a rare assault on her bishop, accusing him of conducting an “unethical, immoral and self-serving” campaign towards her.
The accusations had been made in a 12-page broadside claiming that she and her wardens were the sufferers of “false allegations, delays and threats, and unremitting complaint of a church group doing its best in very difficult occasions”.
In response, a diocese remark on Monday said the vicar had a criminal accountability to conform with the bishop’s instructions and failure to do so could lead on to disciplinary motion for misconduct.
It stated that the bishop notes the response from the vicar and her churchwardens to his instructions revealed in November, after the formal visitation to the parish right through 2021, following “a bunch of issues when it comes to the ministry of Wymondham Abbey”.
It mentioned: “As but, a host of the bishop’s directions remain to be complied with, and he will be working to verify that those matters are correctly addressed. The bishop is very keen to solve matters in Wymondham for the convenience of the entire community.”
Deeply felt division of opinion
The row dates again to a few months after the vicar was once appointed in 2017, whilst 37 lawsuits were made in opposition to her alleging irrelevant behaviour, all of which she denied.
It led to an research in 2019 by a retired Prime Court Docket pass judgement on, Sir Mark Hadley, who ordered the two aspects to unravel their variations.
In November the bishop issued a series of recommendations for the vicar and the abbey’s church council, including ordering Rev Relf-Pennington to apologise to her congregation.
In his own 2021 investigation, the bishop mentioned the allegations against the vicar – whom he claimed had an “authoritarian taste” – “mirror a deeply felt division of opinion between parishioners who are supportive of the vicar and those who’re now not”.
Alternatively, her 12-web page response – which has been published on the church web site and is said to be from her and the abbey wardens – stated that they “had been burdened” amid “unrelenting” power.
It stated: “We imagine the intention has been to wreck the vicar, break the PCC parish church council and to break the worshipping neighborhood.”
It went on: “All Through some of these techniques the diocese has listened a lot more to a few folks – in particular a small circle of white, wealthy, strongly interconnected males, all opposed to the vicar, who have an enormous influence over the issues at Wymondham Abbey and in the leadership of the diocese.”