These turbulent priests: the words and deeds of the men who min ister

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Indy Lifestyle Online
September 1991 The Rev Tom Tyler, married with four children, is found guilty of adultery with a parishioner by a church court. He admits to speaking to her of a "blanket of love", but insists she has misinterpreted him. The church court takes her claims of sexual liaisons on a dining- room chair seriously, and sacks him. He declares: "The whole system is rotten."

November 1992 The General Synod votes on the ordination of women priests is passed, by a two-thirds majority.

March 1993 The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Peter Ball, resigns following revelations of his relations with a novice monk. The diocese is described as "shattered" - it had hitherto interpreted his unorthodox behaviour (rising at five, sleeping on the floor, cold showers) as evidence that he was practically a saint.

December 1993 The Archdeacon of York, the Venerable George Austin, announces doubts that the Church of England will survive until the Prince of Wales takes the throne. A week earlier, he had questioned the Prince's fitness to reign, following his television confession of adultery. "It is a sick church," he said. But, he mused, "perhaps by the time Charles comes to the throne, we will have reduced the Ten Commandments to a more manageable number."

December 1993 Christmas celebrations at All Saints church, Leamington, are disrupted by the news that a newborn baby, named Joseph, is the product of the vicar's adulterous affair with his parish secretary. The vicar had resigned a month earlier, pleading "a crisis of faith brought on by mental exhaustion".

March 1994 The first ordination of women priests takes place, carried out by the Bishop of Bristol. To date, the church continues to haemorrhage disgusted male priests. Their first port of call on leaving the fold is often the Roman Catholic church.

October 1994 The Rt Rev Michael Turnbull is enthroned as the Bishop of Durham, despite revelations about his conviction for gross indecency in a public lavatory some 26 years earlier. Peter Tatchell and other OutRage! members are among those attending the service.

January 1995 The Archbishop of York declares that daily religious assemblies in school are not perhaps a good idea. He suggests that less frequent worship could be complemented by occasional visits to mosques.

March 1995 The Rt Rev Derek Rawcliffe, former Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, confesses to his homosexuality on national television. The Archbishop of York remarks that it is a "pity".

April 1995 The Bishop of London, Dr David Hope, announces that his sexuality is a "grey area". The revelation followed a tense correspondence between the Dr Hope and Peter Tatchell, of OutRage!

April 1995 A senior female official at St Paul's cathedral claims she was subjected to a "horribly embarrassing" barrage of smutty jokes and sexual remarks from church colleagues. Among those accused of ribaldry was Canon Saward, father of the Ealing Vicarage rape victim.

May 1995 It is wrong to condemn people for having extramarital affairs, declares the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Rev Richard Holloway. "God has given us promiscuous genes." Lambeth Palace is unmoved, and retorts: "Adultery is more than a mere indiscretion. It is a sin."

June 1995

Living in sin should no longer be regarded as a sin, a church report declares. Senior churchmen condemn the report as a lamentable bid to be "with it".

July 1995

The Dean of Lincoln, the Very Rev Brandon Jackson, goes on trial before a consistory court, charged with having a "furtive and sordid" affair with the former cathedral verger Verity Freestone. The case focuses on allegations that he "blew on the back of her neck". He was acquitted after a three-day hearing.

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