Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Kieran Conry days after he admitted to having been “unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest”.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, the province that includes the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, will serve as apostolic administrator until a new bishop is appointed, according to a communiqué on the Southwark diocese website.
Over the weekend messages from Archbishop Smith and Conry’s predecessor in Arundel and Brighton, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, were read out in parishes across the diocese that have been shaken by the sudden resignation of their bishop over an affair.
Bishop Conry, 63, announced his resignation on 27 September after admitting that he had broken his vow of celibacy.
In a letter read out in parishes this weekend the cardinal said Bishop Conry’s resignation had been a “great shock and sadness to us all.”
Archbishop Smith wrote: “my heart goes out to you at this difficult time” adding that he had said Mass for all those “hurt or distressed by Bishop Conry’s actions”.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor quoted from a pastoral letter on the nature of the Church, written by the bishop, that was due to be read out in parishes this weekend which mentioned “healing and forgiveness.”
The cardinal said: We all need that healing and forgiveness as Bishop Kieran does at this time.”
Bishop Conry announced his resignation hours before revelations about details of an affair six years ago were published in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The newspaper also reported on a second friendship – providing photos and a love letter – with a married mother-of-two, 43, although the bishop had denied this relationship was sexual.
His departure from the diocese also comes as preparations are under way for Arundel and Brighton to celebrate its golden jubilee. The celebration – planned for July – is entitled “Come and Celebrate with our bishop.”
The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said all involved in Bishop Conry’s situation were in his prayers in a “sad and painful” moment, while Bishop John Arnold, newly appointed to Salford, spoke of the “sad loss” to the bishops’ conference, as well as a great sadness to the people of Arundel and Brighton.
Above: Bishop Conry. Photo: CBCEW