Devon

Exeter Cathedral dean to retire months after bishop criticism

Jonathan Draper
Image caption The Very Reverend Jonathan Draper will retire after a sabbatical period ends in August

The dean of Exeter Cathedral will retire months after he was heavily criticised by his own bishop.

The Very Reverend Dr Jonathan Draper will retire after a sabbatical period ends in August.

The cathedral said the dean had "achieved considerable change" and "a greater mission focus" during his five years in post.

In September the dean was described as "remote and disinterested" in a report by his bishop.

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Image caption Exeter Cathedral said "while some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead"

A statement on the Exeter Cathedral website said the cathedral had been "on a journey of self-evaluation and change" and the process had "raised some challenging issues, not least financial".

"While some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead", it said.

It said the dean's preaching ministry "has been greatly appreciated" and has "led the huge improvements to the repair and maintenance of this historic building".

The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, said: "Jonathan has had to take tough decisions for the long-term good of the cathedral."

The statement said canon Victoria Thurtell had also resigned from her post of precentor with immediate effect.

Image caption The Right Reverend Robert Atwell said the cathedral had "acute" financial problems

The bishop's comments in September followed an annual visit by an independent panel that reports to the bishop about the cathedral's future.

Bishop Atwell, wrote: "Although an excellent preacher, the visitors were repeatedly informed that the lack of spiritual leadership and pastoral care emanates from the dean himself."

The visitors reported the dean "claims to be a 'big picture' thinker, but appears not to listen to advice, even from senior colleagues".

"He does little to encourage staff and seems to have little contact with many regular members of the congregation who claim to find him remote and disinterested."

The bishop also said the cathedral had "acute" financial problems.

Image caption A statement on the Exeter Cathedral website said the cathedral had been "on a journey of self-evaluation and change"

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