An investigation into an allegation against William Cliff, bishop of the diocese of Brandon, has returned a “clear and unambiguous” finding that the evidence did not support the claim of his misconduct, Michael Oulton, the current bishop of Ontario, said in an Aug. 2 press release.
The finding means that Cliff, who received the most votes in an April 29 diocese of Ontario electoral synod, will be installed as bishop of that diocese, succeeding Oulton, who announced in February his intention to resign on the installation of his successor.
Cliff was placed on a form of administrative leave called inhibition in May after the ecclesiastical province reported that allegations of misconduct on Cliff’s part had appeared on social media.
“A full and thorough investigation of the matter over the ensuing three months has now concluded, with a definitive finding that the allegation against Bishop Cliff is not supported by the evidence,” Oulton wrote. He did not specify the exact nature of the allegations against Cliff.
In her findings on the case which were included with Oulton’s press release, Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, said the province’s safe church resource team had thoroughly investigated the allegations “in a manner which is consistent with best practices and with the principles of natural justice” and had found that the evidence did not support the allegation.
“The report of the investigators is confidential and will not be released, respecting all those involved in the investigation. The findings are clear, and the conclusions have been communicated with all parties,” she added.
Germond said Cliff and Oulton would now resume work on the transition of leadership, with a date for Cliff’s installation as bishop of Ontario to be set in the coming weeks.
Oulton said the past few months had been difficult for all involved.
“While I feel immense relief that this matter has come to conclusion, I find little cause for rejoicing,” he wrote. “Lives have been turned upside down, especially that of Bishop Cliff. The pain of these three months will not be erased simply as a result of this finding, but it will begin the process of healing.”
Cliff was ordained a priest in 1992 and since then has served in numerous other positions, including as bishop of the diocese of Brandon, chair of the Anglican Journal coordinating committee, the Anglican Church of Canada’s communications committee, and the Council of the North. He has also served three terms as a human rights commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission and been a member of a singing group known as the Three Cantors.
The diocese of Ontario covers Kingston and five counties along the shore of Lake Ontario, serving about 13,000 Anglicans.
Correction: The diocese of Ontario covers Kingston and five counties along the shore of Lake Ontario, serving about 13,000 Anglicans. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.