Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson’s ‘own decision’ to decline post
Circumstances from 1998 led him to resigning office
Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
The Ven Leslie Stevenson (54), who was due to be consecrated Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral on Wednesday, announced this week that he was declining the appointment.
The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh said his decision“aroused much comment and speculation beyond and within the church”.
In January, Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson was elected the new Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare. Archdeacon Stevenson is from Belfast and is married with one daughter. Following approval by the church’s House of Bishops he was set to be consecrated to succeed Archbishop Richard Clarke .
The decision to elect Archdeacon Stevenson as Bishop of Meath and Kildare this year came before the House of Bishops for acceptance. Dr Clarke said this meeting was informed of circumstances in 1998 which led to the Archdeacon, resigning his office.
“The archdeacon has publicly referred to his relationship with a female parishioner, which he acknowledged, both by his resignation, and in recent statements, he should not have allowed. The nature of this relationship has been the subject of considerable speculation which does not accord with accounts given to me by Mr Stevenson at the time of his appointment in Meath and Kildare,” said Dr Clarke.
He added that in their deliberations in February, members of the House of Bishops reflected on events from the past and the archdeacon’s ministry and decided it was appropriate to accept the decision of the electoral college.
On February 24th the Sunday Business Post reported that the archdeacon, whose first marriage ended in divorce, had a relationship with a woman parishioner in the 1990s while rector at Donaghadee, Co Down. Following revelations about the affair he resigned from the parish in 1999 and undertook a period “of personal discipline”.
He was subsequently appointed rector of Portarlington in Co Laois and Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare diocese in 2009.
The archdeacon has confirmed that the relationship with this other woman did take place.