News Archive

Saturday 15 March 2014

Fr Robert Byrne to be the new Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

Bishop Byrne

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Robert Byrne of the Oxford Oratory as the new Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. The new bishop will have a good northern titular see, Cuncacestre (Chester-le-Street), seventy miles up the Roman road from York.

Fr Robert has been here to St Wilfrid’s a few times in the last few months so some of you have met him. Fr Robert is from Manchester and joined the Birmingham Oratory in 1980. He was one of the founder members of the Oxford Oratory and its first Provost from 1993 until 2011. Since 2012 he has been Secretary for Ecumenism for the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales.

Bishop Byrne will be the first English Oratorian to become a bishop since Edward Bagshawe of the London Oratory became the Bishop of Nottingham in 1874. (Bishop Bagshawe had a small connection with St Wilfrid's when he gave his consent for the transfer of the ancient statue Our Lady of Mercy from his diocese to become the Shrine of Our Lady of York in our Lady Chapel in 1884)

As we offer our warmest congratulations to Fr Robert we also ask  you pray for him as his new ministry begins. Please also remember the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Oxford Oratory. The community is losing a familiar and valued presence by this appointment.

Fr Robert's episcopal ordination will be at St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, on Tuesday, 13th May - the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima - at 11am.

A Message from Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham:

“I am immensely grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Fr Robert Byrne Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. From his time at the Birmingham Oratory and as Provost of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Robert has come to know our Archdiocese well. Having worked alongside him in recent years as the Bishops’ Conference’s Ecumenical Officer, I know that he will bring considerable pastoral, theological and administrative skills to his new responsibilities as a bishop. Above all I am grateful that he brings the spirituality of St Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratory, to enrich his ministry among us. I know that everybody in the Archdiocese, and especially in his pastoral area of Birmingham and Worcestershire, will join me in asking for the prayers of Fr Robert’s fellow Oratorian, Blessed John Henry Newman, as he now prepares for his episcopal ordination in May. I also wish to record my abiding gratitude to Bishop Philip Pargeter for continuing to serve the Archdiocese with great dedication in recent years and for the support and friendship he has so generously given me.”