A Roman Catholic bishop apologised to churchgoers today after he resigned from his post, saying he had brought shame on his diocese and the church.
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, who is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, issued a statement which said he had “been unfaithful to his promises as a Catholic priest”.
The statement, which was being read this weekend in all churches of the diocese, which includes the Chichester area, said: “I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest.
“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.”
Originally from Coventry, Mr Conry studied for priesthood at the Venerable English College in Rome, according to the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton website.
He attended the Gregorian University and was ordained in July 1975 at All Souls Church in Coventry by Archbishop George Patrick Dwyer of Birmingham.
During the 1970s, Mr Conry returned to Cotton College to teach English literature and religious education and in 1980 he became the private secretary to the Apostolic Delegate (Pro-Nuncio from 1982), Archbishop Bruno Heim, and then his successor, Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, the website said.
He was appointed Administrator of St Chad’s Cathedral in 1990, just before its 150th anniversary the following year.
From 1988 to 1993, Mr Conry was a member of the National Conference of Priests, and its vice chairman from 1992 to 1993.
He was also chairman of the Birmingham City Centre Churches from 1992 to 1993, and from 1993 to 2000 he was involved with training counsellors for Catholic Marriage Care, according to his biography.
Mr Conry was director of the Catholic Media Office in London, the press office of the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, and also editor of Briefing, the Bishop’s official journal, between 1994 and 2001, it said.
He was consecrated as fourth bishop of Arundel and Brighton at Arundel Cathedral in June 2001.
Following Mr Conry’s announcement, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “This is a sad and painful moment.
“It makes clear that we are always a Church of sinners called to repentance and conversion and in need of God’s mercy.
“All involved in this situation are much in my prayers today.”