Archbishop saddened by Stevenson’s choice

10 May 2013

Withdrawing from episcopal post: the Ven. Leslie Stevenson

Withdrawing from episcopal post: the Ven. Leslie Stevenson

SUPPORT has remained strong for the Bishop-elect of Meath & Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, who stood down days before his consecration ( News, 3 May).

Among those expressing their support are Roman Catholics in his home parish of Portarlington, Co. Laois.

Archdeacon Stevenson withdrew after a visit to his rectory by three members of the House of Bishops, including the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson. Newspaper articles had reawakened interest in a relationship he had had with a parishioner in 1998.

In a statement issued last Friday, the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, said that Archdeacon Stevenson's decision had come "as a shock and a great sadness" to many in the Church of Ireland and beyond.

He defended the Archdeacon: "At a time when prayer and reflection were called for, incorrect statements of fact and unfounded allegations have caused much hurt and distress. As Primate, I am concerned there appears to have been a rush to judgement by some in the Church and beyond, distorting facts, and attempting to rewrite past events. This has added to the concern and pain of many people."

Dr Jackson issued a statement at the same time. He insisted that he and his fellow bishops had visited Archdeacon Stevenson "in a pastoral capacity". Their visit was not at the behest of the House of Bishops, he said; nor did they go with "the expectation of a predetermined out-come to the conversation.

"The bishops expressed their personal concern for Leslie in the situation of escalating distress as a result of intense media and other interest."

The matter was certain to be raised during the C of E General Synod, which opened in Armagh yesterday.

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