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Bishop ditches priesthood, runs off with chaplain

Last updated 05:00 09/09/2012

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The former head of the Anglican Church in Wellington surrendered his priesthood after he ran off with the wife of one of his fellow clergymen.

Sources have revealed Bishop Tom Brown, 69, voluntarily gave up his right to officiate last month after he split with his wife and then began a relationship with the chaplain of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, the Rev Canon Kate Carey-Smith.

Carey-Smith resigned from her position at the school for "personal reasons" on August 3, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School principal Jenny Williams confirmed last week.

"We were very sad to see her go," Williams said. She declined to comment further.

Carey-Smith was married to the Rev Chris Carey-Smith, the chaplain at St Mark's Church School.

Members of the Anglican church are said to be divided in their opinion of Brown's new relationship according to a religious figure in Wellington.

"Half of the church feels betrayed and cheated," the man said.

The other half of the church was focused on the new era under Bishop Justin Duckworth, he said.

A close friend of the Brown family said: "Unequivocally, the relationship began only after he [Brown] left his wife."

It was revealed revealed last month that Brown made the rare move to surrender his licence on August 7. The decision came only six months after he retired as Bishop of Wellington - a position he held since he was elected in 1998.

It means he can no longer function as a priest.

His replacement, Duckworth, was ordained in June.

Last month Brown told the Dominion Post he voluntarily gave up his right to officiate "to be loyal to the church and maintain the church's integrity".

"I think that under the circumstances it was appropriate that I stand down and have a period of sabbatical or time out, and the present bishop accepted that," he said. "I love the church . . . and I have no intention of turning around and walking away from the church.

"I say my morning prayers . . . [and] I get great consolation out of reading the psalms and, yes, I believe in the goodness of God."

Brown and his new partner declined to comment.

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