‘Heavy heart and soul’ as Bishop resigns

By Michelle Clancy

Church of Ireland parishioners in the south east were shocked this week to learn of the resignation of the Right Reverend Peter Barrett, Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, who has left his wife and children and departed the country.

Bishop Barrett, who in 1998 was installed as Dean of Waterford and Rector of the Waterford Group of Parishes, resigned his post in a letter to the Archbishop of Dublin the Most Reverend Dr John Neill on Wednesday, shortly before he left the country.

In a brief statement, the bishop said: “It is with a heavy heart and soul that I write to you. Following a period of rest and reflection in the midst of deep personal struggle, I regret very much to inform you that I am no longer able to cherish my marriage with the love my supportive wife, Anne, so deserves. As a result I shall be separating from her of my own volition. Consequently, I am unable in all conscience to serve you as bishop with integrity and His Grace, the Archbishop of Dublin, has accepted my resignation.”

Bishop Barrett, who will be 50 on 8th February, had taken two months sick leave at the beginning of January to reflect his position. In his statement, Bishop Barrett asked for forgiveness from his parishioners and community but did not disclose the reason for his marriage break-up. “Above all, it is to my wife and children, who have to bear the burdens of anger, disappointment and pain, that I profess my profound sorrow. The members of the family and friendship circles also suffered grievously. I do hope that, as a family, we shall be afforded space to deal with our shattered emotions as we try to rebuild our lives in the context of an uncertain future.”

Born in Dublin in 1946 and educated at the city’s Trinity College, Dr. Barrett was ordained in 1981 and has served at parishes in Derry, Belfast and Dublin, including a time spent as a chaplain at Trinity College. Three years ago this week, he was consecrated as the bishop of Cashel and Ossory at a ceremony attended by Anglicans and other Christian church leaders from around the world.

Devastated

His wife, Anne, is employed as a social work team leader with mental health services in the health services and they have three children: Clare, Alec and Patrick. In a statement released by Anne through the Church of Ireland, she said she and her children were devastated by her husband’s departure from their family. ‘‘We love him very much. Our lives over the last 25 years have been dedicated to each other, our children and to the Church of Ireland parishes we have served.

‘‘I have supported Peter whole-heartedly in his works as Bishop of Cashel and Ossory. He has rendered himself unable to continue in this capacity as a gifted, loved and respected servant of the Church. We are fortunate to be surrounded by the support and prayers of family and friends’’.

In a statement, the Archbishop of Dublin said Bishop Barrett had provided caring pastoral oversight and a faithful ministry, leading the United Dioceses with both ability and humility. ‘‘To the clergy and people of Cashel and Ossory, I emphasize that the decision to resign was not taken lightly. Nevertheless Bishop Peter could not sustain his ministry among you in view of the direction that his life has taken. As our prayerful love and concern is expressed for Peter, our thoughts and prayers are equally strong for Anne, his wife, and for his family. We pray for them in the deep shock and great loss that they have experienced, and indeed continue to experience.’’

The Venerable John Murray has been appointed as Commissary for Cashel and Ossory and the Venerable Paul Mooney as Commissary for Ferns.

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