Bishopric of the Forces in Great Britain

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Bishop of the Forces
Sede vacante[1][2]
Cathedral Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Aldershot
First incumbent Francis Walmsley
Formation Military bishopric in 1917,
Military vicariate in 1953,
Military ordinariate in 1986

The Bishopric of the Forces (in Great Britain) is the Latin Church Catholic military ordinariate (pseudo-diocese) which provides chaplains to the British Armed Forces based in Great Britain (UK minus Northern Ireland) and their overseas postings.[3][4][5]

It is exempt, i.e. directly subject to the Holy See (not part of any ecclesiastical province) and its Roman Congregation for Bishops. The chaplains are drawn from the dioceses of England, Wales and Scotland, and from some religious institutes. Chaplains have spiritual and pastoral care of military personnel and their families.

There is sometimes confusion between the holder of this Catholic post and the Anglican "Bishop to the Forces": for this reason the former is normally referred to as "the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Forces".

Offices and statistics[edit]

The Bishopric of the Forces (the Catholic Military Ordinariate for Britain) has been a vacant see (sede vacante) since 2015. The Chancellor of the Bishopric of the Forces is Father Stephen Sharkey, and the Administrator until the appointment of a bishop, is Fr Michael Fava.

The diocesan office and the episcopal see, the Cathedral of St Michael and St George (dedicated to traditional patron saints of chivalry and military), are located on Queens Avenue, Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

As per 2014 it has 25 priests (23 diocesan, 2 religious), 2 deacons and 2 lay religious brothers.


From 1917, individual titular bishops were appointed, twice, as Roman Catholic Bishops of the Forces.

On 1953.11.21, a permanent Military Vicariate of Great Britain was established, still always held by titular bishops.

On 1986.07.21, it was 'promoted' as Military Ordinariate of (Bishopric of the Forces in) Great Britain, which can either by held by a British diocesan bishop or (as so far) a full-time titular bishop.

List of office holders[edit]

Roman Catholic Bishops of the Forces
From Until Incumbent Notes
Military bishopric[3][4][5]
1917 1934 William Keatinge, Titular Bishop of Metellopolis Appointed on 30 October 1917 and consecrated on 25 February 1918. Died in office on 21 February 1934.[6]
1935 1946 James Dey, Titular Bishop of Sebastopolis in Armenia Appointed on 13 April 1935 and consecrated on 2 June 1935. Died in office on 8 May 1946.[7]
1946 1954 Sede vacante
Military vicariate[3][4][5]
1954 1963 David Mathew, Titular Archbishop of Apamea in Bithynia (1946.02.20 – 1975.12.12) Previously Apostolic Delegate (papal diplomatic envoy) of British East and West Africa. Appointed on 16 April 1954. Resigned on 23 March 1963 and died on 12 December 1975.[8]
1963 1978 Gerard Tickle, Titular Bishop of Bela Appointed on 12 October 1963 and consecrated on 1 December 1963. Resigned on 24 April 1978 and died on 14 December 1994.[9]
1979 1986 Francis Walmsley, Titular Bishop of Tamalluma (1979.01.08 – 1998.03.07 see below) Appointed on 8 January 1979 and consecrated on 22 February 1979. Became the first bishop of the military ordinariate at the vicariate's promotion on 21 July 1986.[10]
Military ordinariate[3][4][5]
1986 2002 Francis Walmsley Hitherto last incumbent of the military vicariate. Appointed bishop of the military ordinariate on 21 July 1986. Retired on 24 May 2002.[10]
2002 2008 Tom Burns, Marists (S.M.) Born in Northern Ireland (UK) Appointed on 24 May 2002 and consecrated on 18 June 2002. Translated to Menevia in 2008.[11]
2009 2015 Richard Moth Appointed on 25 July 2009 and consecrated on 29 September 2009. Translated to Arundel and Brighton on Saturday, 21 March 2015.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishopric of the Forces". Catholic Church in England and Wales. Retrieved 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d "Military Ordinariate of Catholic Bishopric of the Forces in Great Britain". Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Military Ordinariate of Great Britain". Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  6. ^ "Bishop William Keatinge". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Bishop James Dey". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Bishop David Mathew". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Bishop Gerard William Tickle". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Bishop Francis Joseph Walmsley". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Bishop Charles Phillip Richard Moth". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 

External links and sources[edit]