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Irish bishop-elect stands down: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 6. May 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson

The Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare has declined the appointment as bishop of the border diocese after concerns over his suitability were raised – three days before his consecration.

On 28 Jan 2013 the Ven. Leslie Stevenson was selected by the Episcopal Electoral College for Meath and Kildare to succeed Archbishop Richard Clarke as bishop.  Questions over his suitability for the episcopate were soon raised as in 1999 Mr. Stevenson — who would have become Ireland’s first divorced and remarried bishop — resigned from his parish post under a cloud. The bishop-elect’s past became the topic of newspaper scrutiny and speculation on the internet about his moral integrity made his position untenable, sources tell CEN.

Married in 1984 while serving as a curate in East Belfast, Archdeacon Stevenson was divorced in 1992. In 1998 he married a second time while serving as rector of Donaghadee in the Diocese of Down and Dromore. While he was away on his honeymoon, revelations of a “relationship” with a female parishioner were made public – leading to his resignation from the parish and a six month period of “personal discipline” where he left the parish ministry. In 1999 Mr. Stevenson was subsequently appointed rector of Portarlington in the Diocese of Meath and Kildare and archdeacon in 2009.

On 28 April 2013 he released a statement saying:

“I am honoured to have been elected Bishop of Meath and Kildare and appreciate the support and goodwill offered to me by many people from the dioceses and the wider Church of Ireland over recent months. My positive concern for the Church, to which I remain loyal, now leads me to decline the appointment. I wish to broaden and deepen my ministry in the parish and diocese in which I have been called to serve.”

Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore was not able to attend the January election meeting, but subsequently wrote to the bishops expressing his concern. The fracas will likely have wider implications sources tell CEN and may haunt the archbishop, Dr. Clarke, who had full knowledge of the archdeacon’s past.

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