A MARRIED priest who had an affair with an 18-year-old woman
from his youth group has been suspended from ministry for eight
The priest, the Revd Paul Meier, aged 47, admitted misconduct
before a disciplinary tribunal of the diocese of Chichester on 24
October. He was suspended from his post at St Margaret's in
Horsmonden, Kent, last year.
The affair began in 2008 when Mr Meier was youth missioner in
Storrington, West Sussex, where the teenager attended youth groups
he ran. Mr Meier and his wife, Saskia, had been friends with the
woman's parents for many years.
Judge John Lodge, who led the tribunal, said in a report: "One
day he kissed her, and a full sexual relationship between them
developed. Mr Meier told the complainant he wanted to leave Saskia
and be with the complainant.
"Saskia did not know of her husband's adultery at that time, but
his attention towards the complainant distressed her."
The teenager then developed mental-health problems and told Mr
Meier she had begun self-harming.
"Rather than cease his misconduct and provide her with the
support she needed and deserved, he allowed things to continue
unchanged," Judge Lodge said. The woman only began to recover when
her parents admitted her to a specialist psychiatric unit.
In a statement the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James
Langstaff, said: "The tribunal ordered by way of penalty that Revd
Meier be removed from office with immediate effect, and be
prohibited from the exercise of any of the functions of his Orders
for a period of eight years. It is a matter of great disappointment
when clergy fall short of the standards of behaviour which the
Church expects; clearly that is what has happened."
Bishop Langstaff said that he regretted how long it had taken
for the legal process to be completed since Mr Meier's suspension
in October last year.
"In these circumstances," he said, "I continue to have a
pastoral responsibility for Paul Meier and his family, and will be
in discussion with them about their future."