THE BISHOP who found himself unwittingly at the centre of a tabloid newspaper scandal has announced his retirement.
Bishop Howard Tripp, auxiliary bishop of Southwark, has retired in his 75th year in conformity with Canon Law. His resignation was accepted by John Paul II on January 7.
Bishop Tripp served the archdiocese of Southwark for over 20 years. He was controversially linked to a newspaper story that he had acted as an intermediary between Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Michael Hill, a former priest jailed for child sex abuse. In January 2003, The News of the World claimed that Bishop Howard had offered Hill, a prisoner in Belmarsh Prison, a £50,000 bribe to keep silent.
The story was derided as the “stuff of soap opera”. The newspaper later admitted the story was totally false and without foundation and published a full retraction and apology to both the Cardinal and Bishop Tripp.
The bishop is a keen prison visitor who has made pastoral visits to prisons in the archdiocese for over 20 years.
Priests and laity paid tribute to Bishop Tripp’s “tireless and dedicated service” to the archdiocese. He has agreed to continue, for the time-being, as Vicar General in the diocese to ensure a smooth handover to his successor.