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Archbishop questions why a dismissed priest was licensed in Norfolk: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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The Rev. William Stewart and Bishop Graham James

A Norfolk clergyman has resigned after allegations of misconduct committed while he served in the Church of Ireland were posted on the internet. On 11 Nov 2012, the congregation of Holy Trinity Loddon in Norfolk learned their vicar, the Rev. William Stewart had stepped down. The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Alan Winton said Mr. Stewart had resigned due to a “campaign focused on a matter from his past”.

However a former Archbishop of Dublin stated he was surprised to learn Mr. Stewart had been serving in the Church of England. On 12 Nov 2012 Church News Ireland published a statement from Dr. John Neill saying: “It has been brought to my notice that my name has been mentioned in reports concerning the Rev William Stewart who has resigned as Vicar of a parish in the Church of England.   Whilst extending pastoral support to him and his family when he resigned from CORE Church in Dublin some years ago, I consistently refused to give him clearance to apply for any further ministry in Ireland or overseas.”

Mr Stewart was inducted in the Holy Trinity Church, Loddon, on 16 June 2011 by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, after serving in Dublin.

“A number of parishioners have been supportive of him and his family but he has increasingly felt that under the present circumstances, he is no longer able to continue his ministry,” Bishop Winton said.

However, “in appointing William Stewart the diocese followed the normal procedure of seeking assurance from the Church of Ireland that he was a priest in good standing, and a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check was made and returned clear.”

“On this basis he was offered the post of Rector of the Chet Valley Benefice in good faith. When information about William was posted on the internet, the diocese consulted Norfolk Police.”

The bishop said that the police advised the diocese to “manage” the affair “in accordance with its normal procedures”.

Although Mr Stewart has made an “excellent start”, Bishop Winton said that “as a result of the information published on the internet, he has increasingly found the strain on him and his family to be too much, and has tendered his resignation.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.