SUPPORT has remained strong for the Bishop-elect of Meath &
Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, who stood down days before his
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
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
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
The matter was certain to be raised during the C of E General
Synod, which opened in Armagh yesterday.