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Electoral college fails to elect new bishop

31 May 2013

CHURCH OF IRELAND

THE debate in the diocese of Meath & Kildare continues after the failure, on Tuesday, of a reconvened electoral college to appoint to the vacant see after the Bishop-elect, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, stood down ( News, 3 May).

It reflects the continuing anger and disappointment at what is seen in the diocese as pressure because of the intense press interest surrounding his divorce and subsequent "inappropriate" relationship with a female parishioner, when he was Rector of Donaghadee, in Northern Ireland, 14 years ago.

Archdeacon Stevenson, whose election had been ratified by the House of Bishops, withdrew after a night-time visit to his rectory, at Portarlington, by three bishops, just hours after he had attended a rehearsal for his consecration, due to take place a few days later.

The bishops' visit was led by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, and included the Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry, the Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, and the Bishop of Limerick & Killaloe, the Rt Revd Trevor Williams. On Tuesday, after the collapse of the new election, Archbishop Jackson confirmed that the visit did not in any sense represent the House of Bishops, but was "as three friends to offer him support and to offer him a sounding-board; and on the basis of that he made his decision".

The electoral college, which comprises 64 members of the clergy and laity, spent five hours deliberating. The selection of a new Bishop will now be a matter for the House of Bishops at a later date.

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