The first serving bishop to be suspended in modern times has been reinstated after 20 months as the Archbishop of Canterbury offered an apology for his “ordeal”.
The Telegraph can reveal that Christopher Lowson, who was the Bishop of Lincoln from 2011 until his suspension in May 2019, will now begin the process of resuming his former role.
Not only has he had his suspension lifted, but his Permission to Officiate (PTO), which acts as a licence to minister, has also been reinstated.
Bishop Lowson was suspended from office in an unprecedented move following allegations that he “failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures” regarding children and vulnerable people.
His suspension marked the first time that such sanctions had been imposed on a bishop since Elizabethan times.
Bishop Lowson is understood to be “relieved that the CDM process is over and fully respects its outcome.” He has accepted a penalty for misconduct in relation to the management of one safeguarding issue and issued an apology.
However, he also criticised the church over “the length of the process [which] has not benefited anyone”.
Details of his PTO being reinstated, and his suspension being lifted come just days after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, spoke out over church disciplinary measures.
Lord Carey criticised the Church of England’s “brutal” treatment of him over allegations that he covered up abuse, saying that both survivors and clergy face a “culture of fear” after he had his PTO reinstated following a seven month hiatus.
The current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who sanctioned Bishop Lowson’s suspension in 2019, last night apologised to Bishop Lowson for having to “endure such an ordeal over the last 20 months”.
He said: “I have expressed my regret to Christopher and am very grateful to him for the gracious way he has responded.
“I want to make it clear that I am fully supportive of Christopher returning to ministry as the Bishop of Lincoln.