Catholic leader resigns over affair scandal

The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton ENGSUS00120130421172158
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton ENGSUS00120130421172158

The bishop of Arundel and Brighton, who covers the Eastbourne area, has resigned over two affairs.

Bishop Kieran Conry, 63, announced his resignation on Saturday, and the news was read out to churchgoers at the weekend.

“I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest,” he said.

“I would like to reassure you that my actions were not illegal and did not involve minors.

“As a result, however, I have decided to offer my resignation as bishop with immediate effect and will now take some time to consider my future.

“I want to apologise first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this.

“I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness.”

It has been reported in a national newspaper, that the bishop had secret relationships with two women - one of whom was married, and this is the reason for his resignation.

Catholic bishops are not permitted to have romantic relationships, and swear a vow of celibacy.

The news was met with shock in Catholic churches across the region this weekend.

On Sunday Bishop Kieran told the Daily Mail, “It has been difficult keeping the secret.

“In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief. I have been very careful not to make sexual morality a priority [in his sermons].

“I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people would say I have been a bad bishop. But I can’t defend myself. I did wrong. Full stop.”

The reaction to the news on The Herald and Gazette’s Facebook page was mixed but many were supportive of the Bishop.

Julie Homan, said, “Just goes to show even though he broke the rules he is not perfect, he’s only human.”

Amy Gander, said, “I’m Catholic and years ago had a lot of meetings with Bishop Kieran.

“Sadly the Catholic Church is going to have to change if these sorts of thing are to stop happening, he is after all human. He has my prayers and best wishes.”

Leading Catholic, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference, said, “This is a sad and painful moment. All involved in this situation are much in my prayers today.”