Archbishop Kelly on the retirement of Bishop James Jones

Statement issued by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, on the announcement of the retirement of the Right Reverend James Jones as Bishop of Liverpool.

The regeneration of Kensington, with the foundation for example of the Academy of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the commitment to the enquiry into the horror which was Hillsborough, manifest the loving commitment of Bishop James Jones to the well-being in body, mind and spirit, to justice and healed memories, to dignity and hope, for all those among whom the Lord called him to serve as Bishop.

I am certain that the secret of all this is a hidden story of daily surrender through pondering the Word of God and to prayer, which day by day transforms heart and mind until they are the heart and mind of Jesus Our Lord, who is our Saviour, the one who makes us whole and is therefore acclaimed as the Way the Truth and the Life.

I bear witness to that heartbeat of Bishop James’ ministry by recalling how he was one of my first visitors after my recent slight stroke, when I was benefiting from the excellent care offered to me in the Liverpool Royal Hospital, where I found skill and dedication combined with courtesy, humour and underlying joy. I needed to explore in the presence of our Lord what I needed to do. For every minister of the Gospel must seek to do the will of the Lord who sends us, not our own.

Thanks to exploring with Bishop James in hospital the loving wisdom and wisest love of Our Lord, thanks to the psalm we prayed together, thanks to his blessing I was able to reach the decision to write to the Holy Father Pope Benedict and request to set aside my pastoral ministry as Archbishop of Liverpool, Bishop James assisted me to come to that decision with serenity, clarity and deep peace and even joy. James was for me a Father in God, priest through, with and in Our Lord, and a bearer of the consolation who is the Holy Spirit.

Because a heart and mind surrendered to Our Lord is the truth before God of Bishop James, as all his fellow Church and faith leaders can testify, that surrender never ceases to bear fruit. I know he will continue to be blest and be a blessing for many. But in gratitude to James and to Sarah too, so often the most gracious of hosts for scores of people at Bishop’s Lodge, now our prayer must be that with their whole family they will be blest with serenity, joy and peace.