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Primate expresses regret at retirement of Bishop Lee

By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 October, 2013

bl9-300x238The Primate of All Ireland has expressed his personal regret at the decision of Bishop William Lee to retire as leader of the Church in Waterford and Lismore.

In a statement issued in response to the news that Bishop Lee had tendered his resignation to Pope Francis on grounds of ill health, Cardinal Sean Brady said he was “pleased for Bishop Lee’s own sake and for his health.”

But he added that on a personal level he would miss his warmth, wisdom and compassion, especially at meetings of the Bishops’ Conference.

Cardinal Brady paid tribute to his Episcopal colleague’s career recalling that he had served his diocese and the Irish Episcopal Conference faithfully since his ordination as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore just over 20 years ago in July 1993.

He served as Secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference for 15 years from 1993 until this summer.

“I want to acknowledge his loyal, faithful and outstanding support of the work of the Conference during that time,” the Cardinal said and added that he looked forward to Bishop Lee’s friendship in the coming years.

He urged the faithful to remember him in their prayers at this time. “I wish him good health, a happy retirement and God’s blessing now and always.”

Announcing his retirement, Bishop Lee said he had been diagnosed with serious illness in July 2011 and since that diagnosis he had been under medical care. 

“This has impacted greatly on my health and ministry. Recently the medical advice to me has been that, in the interests of my health, I should retire from the office of Bishop of Waterford and Lismore,” he explained.

He said that even though he found the time since diagnosis quite demanding, he had hoped that he would be able to continue in office and had looked forward to doing so. “Now, my doctors have advised otherwise,” he stated.

Bishop Lee explained that he had in the past few weeks submitted his letter of resignation as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore to Pope Francis and that the Holy Father had accepted his resignation.

“It is with reluctance and sadness that I have come to this decision to retire as I have been very happy and blessed amongst you the priests, religious and people of the diocese.  It was a great privilege for me to be your Bishop. It is a long time and you have been very patient with my shortcomings,” the Bishop said.  

He described his years as Bishop as fulfilling and very challenging.  “Today I recall with gratitude all who have shared in making God’s love present among us – building community, forming the young, safeguarding children, supporting the vulnerable, caring for the elderly, nurturing goodness and hope at every opportunity.  I thank you for your dedication and generosity.”

He said that his intention in the future is to be available to “help out in the diocese – God willing – in whatever way I can.”

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