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Bishop Jones to retire from Liverpool

28 January 2013

THE Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, will retire on his 65th birthday in August, it was announced today.

Bishop Jones was appointed to the post in 1998, and is a member of the House of Lords. He was widely praised last year for his chairing of the Hillsborough Independent Panel ( News, 14 September). He has suggested that this was "the most important work" he undertook as Bishop of Liverpool ( Comment, 21 September).

In a letter to the diocese, Bishop Jones said that the willingness of parishes to "rethink and to reshape our common life for the service of others" had been "inspiring". It had been a "privilege" to serve the wider community, "not least in chairing the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The diocese has recognised the rightness of me doing this which has given me great strength. The way the families and survivors have received the Panel's report, and the way truth is now opening up the path to justice, affirms the worth of the Panel's work."

After a farewell service at Liverpool Cathedral on 3 July, the Bishop will move with his wife to Yorkshire.

His letter concluded: "Sarah and I are very conscious of God's providence over the last 15 years. We are constantly humbled by the commitment of the laity and by the dedication of the clergy. It has been a joy to serve you all as bishop."

The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev Richard Blackburn, who will lead the diocese in the interregnum, thanked God for the "15 years of exceptional and inspirational leadership" of Bishop James.

The Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete Wilcox said that Bishop James had been "an extraordinary servant of the diocese of Liverpool, the city and the region, as well as a significant voice on a national stage . . . a wise pastor, a thoughtful and thought-provoking preacher and teacher, a courageous prophet, a champion of justice and a faithful friend."

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Revd Patrick Kelly, paid tribute to Bishop Jones' commitment to "the well-being in body, mind and spirit, to justice and healed memories, to dignity and hope for all those among whom the Lord called him to serve as Bishop."

Bishop Jones was Bishop of Hull for four years before his translation to Liverpool. He later chaired the New Deal for Communities programme in Liverpool. Almost half (45 per cent) of the parishes in the diocese are designated Urban Priority Areas.

He also established and chaired the governing body of the St Francis of Assisi City Academy, jointly sponsored by the Catholic and Anglican dioceses. It is the first academy to take the environment as its specialism, a particular interest of Bishop Jones, who helped to set up Faiths4Change, an organisation engaging people in "the holistic transformation of their local environment".

In 2011, he was appointed to chair the Independent Panel on Forestry. He will remain as adviser on Hillsborough to the Home Secretary, continue to write and broadcast, and will be involved in a number of other national projects.

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) is scheduled to meet on 11 March and 25/26 April to nominate candidates for the see of Manchester, left vacant after the retirement of the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch; on 8 May and 6/7 June to nominate candidates for the see of Durham, left vacant after the appointment of the Rt Revd Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury; and on 18 July and 5/6 September to nominate candidates for the see of Bath & Wells, which will be left vacant when the Rt Revd Peter Price retires in June.

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