Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 14:13 UK

Bishop resigns after speculation


The bishop's decision to go has saddened supporters

The Bishop of St Davids, the Right Reverend Carl Cooper has resigned after weeks of intense media speculation over the breakdown of his marriage.

His chaplain Rev Mandy Williams-Potter, who denied rumours of a relationship with the bishop, has also resigned.

In a Church in Wales statement, the bishop, who had been on a leave of absence, apologised for "any of his actions that have caused offence".

He said this had made it impossible for him to continue as Bishop of St Davids.

The Archbishop of Wales accepted the resignation of the bishop as being in the best interests of the diocese and church.

Meanwhile, the Church in Wales said: "Rev Williams-Potter has also resigned but we are not commenting further."

St Davids Cathedral, St Davids
Carl Cooper will continue to have the title "Bishop" and "Right Reverend"
The Archbishop of Wales will carry out the episcopal duties for St Davids diocese until a new bishop is appointed
Bishop Cooper will ultimately have to move out of the bishop's residence which goes with the job
A replacement will be appointed in "due course" after a meeting of the Church in Wales electoral college.
Source: Church in Wales

In March, Bishop Cooper took a leave of absence from the office which covers Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and parts of Powys.

Some members of the diocese had called for an investigation into his conduct.

But clergy were also urged to sign a letter of support for Bishop Cooper by the Reverend Canon Michael Butler and fellow members of the Deanery of Narberth.

It followed concerns over speculation which surrounded the breakdown of his marriage of 25 years to his wife Joy in February.

Both stressed at the time that no-one else was involved on either side and the split was described as "amicable".

Rev Wiliams-Potter, who had been his chaplain and communications officer, had also been on a leave of absence.

It is understood the detached house where she lives with her two children, aged six and 12, is owned by the church and she will have to move out.

She has said that rumours about their relationship were false and said newspaper speculation had been very distressing for both families.

Rt Rev Carl Cooper
Bishop Cooper had taken a leave of absence from his diocese

Four senior clergy from the diocese of St Davids said the announcement would enable them to move on and "focus on the many positive aspects of the diocese's vocation and ministry".

In a joint statement, the clergy said: "The events of recent months have weighed heavily on so many people in the diocese and we continue to hold them in prayer."

Bishop Cooper, who has three children aged 22, 20 and 17, took up his post in 2002. It is not known what his future plans are.

Although the resignation of a bishop is a "very rare occurrence" according to the Church in Wales, it is not unprecedented.

Bishop Eryl Thomas resigned as Bishop of Llandaff in 1975 following a criminal court case. He then became assistant bishop in the diocese of Swansea and Brecon.


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