Aims of this project


"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public"

Cornel West

CDM - a harsh Discipline?
Church Times article
18 Oct 2018

What is wrong with CDM?

There appear to be some serious problems with the Church of England's Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). Recurring themes and issues are highlighted by some of the hundreds of Anglican clergy who belong to the Hub or visit Sheldon. 

  • Clergy find themselves caught up in a process in which they are more vulnerable than professionals in any other discipline and which has no ombudsman-style oversight.
  • Bishops are potentially compromised by being asked to fulfil mutually incompatible roles of Investigator, Prosecutor, Judge and Pastor.
  • Many Archdeacons dread having to administer the process.
  • Clergy families are unfairly vulnerable with regard to their home, community and finances.
  • Complainants seldom seem to get the remedy they seek.

The quality of pastoral and working relationships between clergy and senior staff can be eroded in ways that go well beyond the people involved in any particular case. At every level, time, energy and money are being drained and there are no real winners. Anecdotal evidence is all we can work with at this stage because data collection is inadequate on both process and outcomes. Anecdotal evidence includes:

  • Delays in processing cases leave people in limbo for many months or even years.
  • Serious impacts on short and long-term mental health – especially anxiety and depression, but occasionally suicide.
  • Ruinous costs from legal fees when specialist ecclesiastical lawyers are needed and the church's legal aid does not always cover fully.
  • Clergy leaving ministry because of inadequate support to either rehabilitate in the parish or move to a new post.
  • A legacy of poor physical and mental health and marital relationship stress.

In 2018 Sheldon commissioned Aston University Business School and Department of Psychology to undertake independent academic research into the effects of CDM. A major survey is now live and the results will provide much needed evidence base to assist the church going forward. 

The aims of Sheldon's Project CDM are

  • To improve support for Respondents, including information and signposting of resources
  • To improve the handling of cases through improved education and accountability
  • To make recommendations for the repair or replacement of the Measure, based on sound evidence of current practice

We are proposing a four-pronged approach to action on CDM

Education & Support

Provide and signpost help, advice and support for CDM respondents now ... read more


Improve accountability on how the existing Measure is operated ... read more

Independent research

Commission academic research to provide a strong evidence base ... read more

Listen & Learn

Develop evidence based proposals for repair or replacement of CDM ... read more