THE BISHOP who welcomed a convicted paedophile back into the church has apologised for his insensitive decision – but has asked his victims to forgive their tormenter.
Former Portsmouth bishop Timothy Bavin placed convicted child molester Father Michael Gover, who died on Boxing Day, as curate in the city's Church of the Ascension in Stubbington Avenue, North End, in 1990 – five years after he was jailed for 21 months for attacking young boys.
Bishop Bavin, who now lives a monastic life at Alton Abbey, refused said in a written statement: 'I admit, in retrospect, that I was wrong in the decision I made, even with the best of intentions.
'I apologise to all who have been upset by it, especially the victims, all those living in the parish and also Bishop Kenneth Stevenson.
'I do not apologise for having tried, however mistakenly, to help a broken man, in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ.
The present Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Kenneth Stevenson, said: 'I'm glad Bishop Bavin has been able to respond in this way. I hope his sincere apology reinforces the seriousness with which the Church takes matters of child protection.'