CoI archbishop of Dublin to retire


A senior cleric who pushed for the ordination of female ministers today announced his retirement as the head of the Church of Ireland in Dublin.

The Most Rev Dr John RW Neill revealed he plans to retire as Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Glendalough at the end of January after eight years.

The 64-year-old reverend, who was a significant force in the introduction of female ordination, believes it is time for a new church leader with fresh vision and energy.

“On January 25th, 2011, I will have served for 25 years as a Bishop in the Church of Ireland and for over eight years as Archbishop of Dublin,” said Dr Neill.

“I have enjoyed my whole ministry as deacon, priest and bishop and these last years as Archbishop have offered me many opportunities to serve in a rich variety of ways, working with a wonderful team of both priests and laity.

“The time has come for an Archbishop with fresh vision and energy to lead the United Dioceses and to serve as Metropolitan of the Province.”

Born in Dublin, Dr Neill was the only son of the late Canon EM Neill.

He was educated in schools in Blackrock and Ranelagh before attending Trinity College Dublin, where he graduated with a First Class Honours Moderatorship in Hebrew and Oriental Languages.

He later studied at the Jesus College Cambridge, achieved an MA in Cambridge and in 2003 was awarded an LLD (Doctor of Laws) from the National University of Ireland.

When he was ordained a deacon in 1969, and as a priest the following year, he became the fourth generation of his family to serve in ordained ministry.

He served as Archbishop of Dublin from October 12 2002, succeeding the Most Revd Walton Empey.

Over the years he has been heavily involved in issues such as ecumenism, immigration, health and education and proposed the Bill to the 1990 General Synod that led to the introduction of female ordination.

Since his enthronement, Archbishop Neill has spoken out strongly on major issues facing Irish society including immigration, materialism, and the importance of maintaining a pluralist ethos in Irish society, particularly in the provision of education and the health services.

He has been strongly critical of the war in Iraq and was heavily involved in attempts to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the occupation of St Patrick’s Cathedral by over 40 Afghan Asylum seekers in May 2006.