Bishop denied entry to India over preaching concerns

Published 13 January 2009
The Bishop of Gloucester has been denied entry to India because of officials' concerns he may preach while in the country.

The Rt Rev Michael Perham was due to visit the Diocese of Gloucester's partner churches in Karnataka.

Communications officer Lucy Taylor said the incident had arisen because the bishop had the wrong visa.

“Whenever we’ve gone before, both we and Lambeth Palace have always applied for a tourist visas," she was quoted as saying by the Gloucestershire Media Group.

“But the rules have changed recently, which we weren’t aware of, and we should have applied for a business visa.”

Ms Taylor said that Bishop Perham was unable to give immigration officials a guarantee that he would not preach.

"It’s a visit to our linked dioceses in India, and he might be invited to stand up and speak, so he couldn’t say definitely he wouldn’t be," she said.

“That’s why the visa was refused and we just didn’t have enough time to get another one for this trip to go ahead.”

She added: “It’s disappointing that he couldn’t go now, it’s been a while since he’s been out there and is keen to keep the links up with the two dioceses.”

An official at the Indian High Commission in London said the bishop was denied a visa because the purpose of his visit was related to church activities and that this was not permitted under a tourist visa.

“We need a letter from the church or institute who will host him and we will look at what visa is appropriate,” he said.

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