THE former Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel & Ossory, the Rt Revd Peter Francis Barrett, whose sudden resignation in 2006 after only three years in the episcopate led to controversy on the manner in which the Church dealt with confidentiality, has died at his Dublin home, aged 59.
Clergy and congregations in his large diocese were shocked when, in January 2006, he issued a statement which said that, after a deep personal struggle: “I regret very much to inform you that I am no longer able to cherish my marriage with the love my supportive wife, Anne, so deserves. As a result I shall be separating from her on my own volition (News, 27 January 2006).”
After his resignation he left Ireland to live in Britain with a woman he had known many years previously, but the relationship did not last, and he returned to Dublin.
The dearth of information surrounding his resignation was heavily criticised in some quarters, but addressed by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, who spoke of the sadness felt by all for the families of both parties. He assured churchpeople in the Cashel & Ossory dioceses, however, that everything possible had been done to prevent “a tragic situation” (News, 3 March 2006).
Dr Neill said at the time that, while some people might have felt annoyed at a lack of information coming from the Church, Bishop Barrett and his family were entitled to be treated with confidentiality.