A parish priest has been sacked after touching two people without their consent and stripping down to his boxer shorts to conduct a “full immersion” baptism.
A Diocese of Hereford disciplinary tribunal found Reverend Clive Roger Evans, 62, had touched the bottoms of a woman and a girl, and had “engaged in conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.
Reverend Evans, who was the vicar of St Peter’s Church in Bromyard and St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Stoke Lacy, told the tribunal he had been reluctant to carry out the full immersion baptism in 2017 because he was due to go on holiday with his wife.
He added that he agreed to help because there was an “urgency to the request”.
In a 30-page ruling, the tribunal accepted Reverend Evans’ evidence but said he still had “ample opportunity” to make sure he had the appropriate change of clothing.
They panel added there was “no extreme urgency which might conceivably be imagined to justify a state of semi-nakedness”.
The report reads: “The panel does accept that Reverend Evans felt there was an urgency to the request and that this led him to take the unusual step of acquiescing to it and stopping off en route to his holiday to perform the baptism.
“We do not, however, accept that the degree of urgency was extreme or that it was perceived as such.”
It continues: “The panel considers that underwear is intimate apparel.
“It is qualitatively different to, and has different associations from, other forms of clothing, or even of swimwear.
“As such there is a loss of dignity by stripping down to underwear in the circumstances in which it occurred which is inherently inappropriate and unbecoming.
“There was no extreme urgency which might conceivably be imagined to justify a state of semi-nakedness and public display of underwear.”
In its sanction of priest, the panel removed him from office and prohibited him from exercising any of the functions of his orders for a period of six months.
It also imposed an injunction that he should complete training courses relating to safeguarding, appropriate working and pastoral boundaries prior to any recommencement of ministry.
The tribunal also granted anonymity to those concerned in the allegations.