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Sizer receives 12-year ban from ministry after anti-Semitic ruling

31 January 2023


Dr Stephen Sizer

Dr Stephen Sizer

THE Revd Dr Stephen Sizer has been barred from ministry until 2030 after a tribunal ruled that his conduct was anti-Semitic and therefore unbecoming to the office and work of a Clerk in Holy Orders (News, 7 December 2022).

The tribunal followed a complaint made to the diocese of Winchester about Dr Sizer, a former Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, by Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who cited 11 examples of anti-Semitic behaviour between 2005 and 2018.

The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that Dr Sizer had “provoked and offended the Jewish community” and “engaged in anti-Semitic activity”. In particular, an article that Dr Sizer posted on Facebook in January 2015 was found to be “virulently anti-Semitic” (News, 13 February 2015).

The Acting Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Debbie Sellin, said that the penalty of prohibition for 12 years (which includes time Dr Sizer has already served) reflected the seriousness of the misconduct found by the tribunal.

She said: “It is the Church of England’s task to lead in the work of enabling mutual understanding and strong, peaceable inter-faith relationships for the common good of society, and its ministers must take very seriously their role in initiating positive relationships between communities, locally, at diocesan and regional level, as well as nationally and internationally.

“Moreover, as a report from the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission affirms, the Christian-Jewish relationship should be viewed as a ‘gift of God to the Church’ to be received with care, respect and gratitude. As Archbishop Justin Welby said in 2018, in a joint letter with other Christian and Jewish leaders, antisemitism has no place in our society and those in positions of power and influence must listen to concerns about it.”

Mrs van der Zyl, said that she was “pleased” that the tribunal had made an unambiguous statement in its penalty. “Given that he indulged in ‘anti-Semitic activity’ and caused grievous offence to the Jewish community over a number of years, this is the correct decision. I am grateful to the tribunal for hearing our evidence, and look forward to a continued strong and close relationship with the Church of England in the coming years.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “It’s clear that the behaviour of Stephen Sizer has undermined Christian-Jewish relations, giving encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes that have no place in public Christian ministry and the Church.”

Dr Sizer has made no public comment so far.

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