Archdeaconry of Salop: A statement from the Bishop of Lichfield

Published: 23rd March 2024

In September of last year, Archdeacon Paul Thomas agreed to step back from all ministry while a complaint made against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure was investigated. That process has now concluded, overseen by the Bishop of Shrewsbury on my behalf during my absence. I am grateful to Bishop Sarah for her care in considering this, and I am now in a position to state the outcome. Paul has admitted to “a brief, consentual but inappropriate relationship with a woman during 2022 and early 2023 whilst suffering post-Covid depression and spiritual exhaustion.”

In the Diocese of Lichfield, we expect the highest standards of personal and professional conduct from our clergy. The penalty that has been imposed on Paul, and to which he has consented, is resignation as Archdeacon of Salop and a prohibition from ministry for 3 years. This means that he will not be returning to ministry as Archdeacon of Salop. I am deeply grieved that Paul’s long service in ministry in this Diocese, which I know has been appreciated over the years by many people, including me, has been marred in this way.

Bishop Sarah and I are mindful of the need to offer a continuity of ministry in the role of Archdeacon of Salop. We have been, and we continue to be, very grateful to the Revd Preb. Jo Farnworth and the Revd Mary Thomas for having agreed to serve as Acting Archdeacons of Salop (email). They have agreed to continue to act in this role, in addition to their parish duties, until a substantive appointment to the role of Archdeacon of Salop is made. We trust that Jo and Mary will receive every encouragement and support as they seek to fulfil this role, especially in the present challenging circumstances. Anyone with questions about pastoral arrangements in the Archdeaconry should contact Bishop Sarah.

Clergy for whom this news may raise personal concerns may want to contact our diocesan Listening Ear provision; and our Safeguarding Team are always ready to offer support and guidance. Bishop Sarah and I understand that what we have written about Paul will be very difficult for you to receive, and we both assure you all of our prayers.

+Michael Lich:
23rd March 2024

Page last updated: Monday 25th March 2024 7:20 AM
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