Bishop of Gloucester describes 'sadness' at formal retirement

PARBUL/PABishop Michael Perham speaking in the House of Lords in 2010

The Bishop of Gloucester has described his sadness at being unable to say a proper farewell to his flock as he formally retired from his diocesan episcopal post today.

Earlier this year Michael Perham stepped down from his post while he helped police with enquiries into an historic allegation of indecent assault.

In a letter to clergy, readers and lay workers in the diocese, he said: "The last period of nearly four months in which I have not been able to exercise my ministry has, of course, been distressing and painful and the fact that a proper leave-taking cannot happen yet is a sadness.

"Meanwhile, my concern now is not to dwell on these last weeks, but to give thanks for the 10 years in which it has been my privilege to be a bishop for the people of Gloucestershire and beyond."

Although the police recently stated that Bishop Perham will not face charges, he still cannot have a celebration farewell service until the Church of England's own investigation is complete. The diocese was forced to cancel the service that had been planned.

Bishop Perham said in is letter: "Gloucestershire is a wonderful county, with all its variety yet its sense of common identity, and the diocese, which of course extends a little beyond the county, is a family in which much faith and hope and love are found.

"To have been here a pastor and teacher, a leader in mission and a sign of unity, which is what I have sought to be, has brought me great joy."

He was in particular "full of gratitude" for the lay people in the pews, who are in the forefront of the Church's mission and make "all the difference" to its effectiveness.

He and his wife Alison will move to Somerset in a few weeks.

Alison, in a separate letter, also thanked the people of the diocese for their "support and kindness" after a knee operation and also throughout the recent "difficult" months.

She said: "I have loved the opportunities presented to us but, most importantly, I have enjoyed meeting the clergy and laity of the diocese, and have learnt much from many of you, and you have all enriched our lives."