Bishop hits back over opt-out plan

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The Independent Online
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Peter Nott, yesterday poured scorn on the plan announced by five of his parishes to opt out of the diocese after he dismissed their priest for wanting to take a third wife.

Half of the parishes once looked after by the Rev Kit Chalcraft announced this week that they would no longer accept the Bishop's management of their affairs.

Mr Chalcraft's licence as a priest will end on 28 February. After that he has announced he wants to be married to his friend Susanne Hall and to take a six-month holiday.

Bishop Nott has appointed the Archdeacon of Lynn, The Ven Anthony Foottit, as priest in charge of the parishes from 1 March.

However, the dissident faction claim they have found other priests prepared to take services, though this will be illegal. They have formed an alliance with a priest in the neighbouring diocese of Ely, Robert Van der Weyer, who has quarrelled with his bishop.

Bishop Nott said last night that there would be no question of his barring the churches against other priests, though their actions would be illegal. He said: "They tend to communicate with me through the press, so I am not entirely clear yet what it is they want, and I don't think they are either."

A spokesman for the five parishes told the Church Times: "The churches were built by the people for the people. Who in their right mind will attempt to take them away?"