Con­tro­ver­sial vicar granted fi­nal farewell

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

THE CHURCH of Eng­land’s le­nient treat­ment of a con­tro­ver­sial vicar has been de­scribed as “very dis­ap­point­ing” by the Board of Deputies, after he again breached the terms of an agree­ment he had made with bish­ops not to dis­cuss Is­rael.

Stephen Sizer, who has led the Christ Church con­gre­ga­tion in Sur­rey for 20 years, had agreed in 2015 not to write, speak or tweet about the Mid­dle East after shar­ing a link to a piece which sug­gested Is­rael had been be­hind the 9/11 at­tacks.

He had pre­vi­ously been warned about shar­ing Holo­caust de­nial and Zion­ist con­spir­acy ar­ti­cles.

How­ever, last Novem­ber he posted about an event he had at­tended in the House of Lords hosted by Baroness Tonge and or­gan­ised by the Pales­tinian Re­turn Cen­tre, at which an au­di­ence mem­ber ap­peared to blame Jews for the Holo­caust.

On that oc­ca­sion, de­spite Dr Sizer breach­ing the terms of his agree­ment, An­drew Wat­son, the Bishop of Guild­ford, de­cided to give him a fi­nal chance.

The JC un­der­stands Dr Sizer has in the past three weeks again posted sta­tuses on Face­book about the Mid­dle East, once more breach­ing the terms of his agree­ment.

In a state­ment is­sued last Fri­day by Bishop Wat­son, the Church con­firmed: “Dr Stephen Sizer has again con­tra­vened the agree­ment he made in Fe­bru­ary 2015.”

The Bishop said Dr Sizer planned to re­tire next month, on Easter Sun­day, but he had been re­quired “to cease all preach­ing, teach­ing and lead­ing of ser­vices with im­me­di­ate ef­fect” and to “de­sist from all use of so­cial me­dia un­til his re­tire­ment takes ef­fect”.

How­ever, de­spite the Bishop say­ing he was “very dis­ap­pointed by Dr Sizer’s ac­tions”, he con­ceded that the vicar should be al­lowed to lead his min­istry over the Easter week­end in or­der “to al­low the parish of Vir­ginia Wa­ter to say a proper good­bye”.

Jonathan Arkush, Board of Deputies pres­i­dent, said: “Stephen Sizer has re­peat­edly trans­gressed the terms of the agree­ment he made with the Church of Eng­land on Fe­bru­ary 14, 2015. He was is­sued with a fi­nal warn­ing on Novem­ber 2, 2016, fol­low­ing yet an­other breach.

“So it is very dis­ap­point­ing that the Church has al­lowed him to re­main in his min­istry, al­beit with re­stric­tions, un­til Easter, when he will again be per­mit­ted to preach. The Jewish com­mu­nity will feel let down that the Church has failed to dis­miss a min­is­ter who has re­peat­edly posted slurs.”

It is un­der­stood Dr Sizer will carry out char­ity work after leav­ing his post.

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