THE Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth will step down after more than 22 years in the job.
Tributes have been paid to the Rt Rev Crispian Hollis after he announced his plan to retire following his 75th birthday later this year.
Bishop Crispian was installed as the seventh Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth in 1989, and has also held positions in Oxford and Bristol, as well as working a religious adviser for the BBC.
He said he was proud to have served Portsmouth for more than two decades, but it was time to let someone else lead the city’s Catholic community.
‘I have come to love the city very much and it has been an honour to work with people right across the diocese,’ he said.
‘I am pleased to have started restructuring its parishes and hopefully put funds in place to finance that work.
‘But although I now consider Portsmouth my home, when I retire it would not be fair on whoever takes over to have me around, so I will be going back to Somerset where I grew up.’
A successor has yet to be appointed but Bishop Crispian will remain in his post until one can be confirmed.
Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said he hoped whoever took over would continue Bishop Crispian’s good work.
He said: ‘His kindness and his influence in Portsmouth have made him an exceptional bishop.
‘The whole city has been served extremely well by his thoughtful and liberal approach, and the work he has done particularly with other churches.’
The news of his retirement comes after Bishop Crispian ordained the former Church of England Bishop of Richborough, Edwin Barnes, into the Catholic priesthood at St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth.
The Bishop admitted he once had misgivings about Anglican priests converting to Catholicism.
But he said he changed his mind after getting to know them and seeing their commitment.
He is expecting to ordain three more Anglicans into the Catholic church by June this year.