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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Archbishop resigns after abuse criticism
Archbishop Ward resigned following an audience with the pope
The most senior Catholic bishop in Wales has stepped down following allegations that he failed to act in two cases of paedophile priests.

Archbishop of Cardiff John Aloysius Ward is to be replaced by Bishop Peter Smith, 58, who is currently bishop of East Anglia, it was announced on Friday.

I was determined that no-one - be it sections of the media or other critics - would force me out of office

Former Archbishop of Cardiff John Ward

The controversial archbishop - under increasing pressure to step down - had a private audience with the Pope last week after which he decided to resign.

It followed a lengthy campaign by activists who criticised his handling of the cases of two paedophile priests in his diocese - John Lloyd and Joseph Jordan - who have since been jailed.

The 72-year-old archbishop - recently recovered after a long period of sick leave following a deep-vein thrombosis last winter - had said he was keen to resume his duties.

He did not appear at the press conference but in a statement he said: "I was determined that no-one - be it sections of the media or other critics - would force me out of office."

But, he added: "I came to the conclusion that my present good health could quickly return to incapacity."

Since December Archbishop Ward's work has been taken over by an "apostolic administrator", Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham, who is to continue that role until the new archbishop's installation at St David's Cathedral in early December.

At a press conference in Cardiff, his replacement, the Most Reverend Archbishop- Elect said he was mindful of problems in the archdiocese.

New Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith
The new Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith

"Obviously, there have been difficult times for the archdiocese, priests and especially those abused," he said.

"Child abuse is a dreadful wrong and there is no justification for it. In the last 12 months steps have been taken to address the problem. The bishops are intent of getting rid of it but there are no guarantees."

Friday's announcement bring to a close a series of bitter disputes, during the most recent of which the Catholic Herald newspaper reported that the Archbishop Ward - who had been in charge of the Cardiff diocese since 1983 - refused an appeal from the Pope's representative to resign his post.

He insisted he has been made a "scapegoat" for the church's failure to deal with two priests in the diocese who were later jailed for abusing children.

Lloyd was once the archbishop's press officer and it has been alleged the archbishop forwarded letters from parishioners complaining about abuse to the abuser.

Father John Lloyd
Jailed: Father John Lloyd

As a result parishioners stopped complaining and the priest continued to abuse women, girls and boys, until he was finally stopped in 1998 and sentenced to eight years in jail.

Joseph Jordan had ended his teaching career as a result of abuse allegations but was still able to join the church.

When he applied to move from Devon to Wales, it is alleged the archbishop did not tell the appointments board about the court case in which Jordan was acquitted of abuse.

Last year Jordan was jailed for abusing children in Wales and Doncaster.

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"The Catholic hierarchy has clearly decided his resignation was long over due"
Bishop Peter Smith, future Archbishop of Cardiff
"We need to rebuild confidence and trust in the church again"
See also:

06 Nov 00 | Wales
Diocese's shame over past abuse
17 Apr 01 | UK
A victim speaks out
10 Nov 00 | Archive
Power to Abuse November 5 2000
26 Oct 01 | Wales
Archbishop's turbulent reign
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