Thursday 18 October 2018

Ex-bishop was 'hounded into exile' by Church heads

Leading layman claims CofI has 'clamped down' on information

John Cooney

Religious Affairs

Specialist

A LEADING Church of Ireland layman has criticised the House of Bishops for "hounding" into exile Peter Barrett, who resigned last week as Bishop of Cashel and Ossory after separating from his wife.

Noel Coghlan, a theology graduate and former Eurocrat, expressed the widespread dismay among Church of Ireland members that the bishops and former colleagues had "clamped-down" on providing information as to why the former bishop had moved to Britain.

Ten days ago the 49-year old bishop stunned the Church of Ireland community when he said he was no longer able to cherish his marriage with the love his supportive wife Anne deserved. This week's Church of Ireland Gazette newspaper carried the former bishop's resignation statement with an appreciative but bland explanation that it had been accepted by Archbishop John Neill of Dublin under the church's constitution.

There was no opinion article about on the significance of this rare resignation, or reactions from puzzled readers as to why the Dubliner had felt compelled to leave Ireland and not carry on his ministry in this country, or in the North, where he had previously served.

Yesterday Mr Coghlan expressed surprise at the reasons why the Church of Ireland, which prides itself on open discussion, had allowed one of its most able bishops to depart as Bishop Casey returns to "an open-arms reception" by members of the Catholic Church.

The Church of Ireland, which has spent so much of its time bemoaning the pending worldwide schism on the issue of gay bishops in the Anglican Communion, had lost one of its ablest bishops "who appears to have been hounded out of the country," Mr Coghlan told the Irish Independent.

"What is also galling is the clamp down on information to members of the church which they might reasonably expect when one of our bishops is forced to resign. This shows a lack of tolerance.

"Peter Barrett was one of our finest scholars who has been at the forefront of inter-church dialogue."

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