Crispian Hollis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Reverend
Crispian Hollis
Bishop Emeritus of Portsmouth
Church Roman Catholic
Province Roman Catholic Province of Southwark
Diocese Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth
In office 5 May 1987–11 July 2012
Predecessor Anthony Joseph Emery
Successor Philip Egan
Ordination 11 July 1965
by William Theodore Heard
Consecration 5 May 1987
by Maurice Noël Léon Couve de Murville
Personal details
Birth name Roger Francis Crispian Hollis
Born (1936-11-17) 17 November 1936 (age 80)
Bristol, England
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Christopher Hollis & Madeleine Hollis (née King)
Previous post Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham and Titular Bishop of Cincari

Roger Francis Crispian Hollis (born 17 November 1936, in Bristol) is the Bishop Emeritus of Portsmouth for the Roman Catholic Church. His parents were Christopher Hollis (1902–1977), the author and parliamentarian, and Madeleine Hollis (née King).

Family life[edit]

Both his parents were received into the Roman Catholic Church. He is possibly unique among Catholic bishops in being the grandson of an Anglican bishop, the Right Revd George Arthur Hollis (1868–1944), vice-principal of Wells Theological College and later suffragan Bishop of Taunton, and the nephew of another, the Right Revd Arthur Michael Hollis, Bishop of Madras (1942-1954).[1]


Educated at Stonyhurst and Balliol, he graduated from Oxford in 1959 to start studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University while living at the Venerable English College.

Hollis was ordained a priest on 11 July 1965, about the same time that his uncle, Sir Roger Hollis, took early retirement.

After one year as a curate at Christ the King, Amesbury, Wiltshire, Hollis was posted to the Old Palace, which housed the Catholic chaplaincy in the University of Oxford. There he worked from 1967 to 1977, first as assistant to Father Michael Hollings, then as chaplain. In 1977 he was appointed Catholic Assistant to the Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC, a responsibility that ensured him a lifetime of contacts with the media.

In 1981 he was appointed Administrator of Clifton Cathedral in Bristol and Vicar General of the Diocese of Clifton, with special responsibility for ecumenical affairs. While still in this post, he was appointed a member of the IBA's panel of religious advisers and in 1986 became a member of the Central Religious Advisory Committee (CRAC) for the BBC and the IBA.


In February 1987, Hollis followed in the family footsteps when, like his grandfather and his uncle, he was appointed as auxiliary bishop (or suffragan bishop) to Archbishop Maurice Noël Léon Couve de Murville of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Hollis was given special responsibility for the Oxfordshire area. This was not to last, for he was installed as Bishop of Portsmouth on 27 January 1989.

Hollis has been Chairman of the Catholic Media Trust and also Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Europe. He served as a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican, as Chairman of the Bishops' Conference Department of Mission and Unity, Representative for the Bishops' Conference of the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and a Member of IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Committee for Unity and Mission). He is said to enjoy cricket and golf and, in the family tradition, to take a keen interest in current affairs.

Holy Trinity Monastery, East Hendred, a monastery of contemplative Benedictine nuns[2] situated in the Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire,[3] and part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth was founded by Hollis in 2004.

The road outside Bishop's House, Portsmouth and St John's Cathedral was renamed Bishop Crispian Way on 3 April 2011, to mark his forthcoming retirement after 22 years service. At the time, Hollis said: "I am overwhelmed by the honour that is being done to me by the renaming of what I might call our section of Edinburgh Rd. As far as I know, no such honour has been done to any of my predecessors and I am still at a little bit of a loss to know what I have done to deserve this honour. I have now lived in the city of Portsmouth for nearly 23 years and I have come to love it as my home. I have always tried to engage myself in the life of the wider community of the city and when the time comes for me to leave, I will do so with great sadness."[4]

In 2011, Hollis announced that he would be retiring as soon as a replacement could be found. On Tuesday 11 July 2012, an official press release from the Vatican Information Service (VIS) of the Holy See Press Office stated that Pope Benedict XVI had named the Reverend Monsignor Philip Egan, until then the Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury, England, U.K., as the Bishop-Elect of Portsmouth.[5] Bishop Egan was consecrated as the Eighth Bishop of Portsmouth, with Bishop Hollis serving as Principal Consecrator, on 24 September 2012, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.[6]

Following Bishop Egan's consecration, Bishop Hollis retired from his position as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Portsmouth. He now lives in the small village of Mells, Somerset. The Diocese issued a special commemorative edition of their newspaper to mark his retirement.[7]


Hollis actively encourages people to travel to Lourdes, to which he has a great attachment, first going there in 1967 as a chaplain with the Oxford University Pilgrimage and then going annually with them until 1981. On returning to the Diocese of Clifton he travelled with the Clifton Pilgrimage each year up until 1986 and with the Portsmouth diocese since 1987.

The Portsmouth diocese, together with the Dioceses of Clifton, East Anglia, Northampton and Southwark, plus Stonyhurst College travel each year with the Catholic Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Hollis was the Patron of the Catholic Association Hospitalité until 2011.[8]


He supported Barack Obama's candidacy for President of the United States in 2008.[9]

In November 2011, the High Court ruled that Roman Catholic bishops were vicariously liable for the torts committed by priests who held ecclesiastical offices to which those bishops had appointed them. The court also appeared to hold that acts of the bishop of a Roman Catholic diocese in England and Wales could create vicariously liabilities for their successors.[10] The ruling refers to a civil action being brought by a 47-year-old woman who claims that she was subjected to repeated sexual assault by a priest of the diocese in a care home belonging to a religious order independent of the diocese but situated in the territory of the Diocese of Portsmouth.

At the time of the alleged abuse - determined by the claimant by reference to her social security records as being during her residence in the home prior to her leaving the home in May 1972 - the priest was serving 50 miles away in another part of the diocese and had neither the reason nor the opportunity to visit the home. The judge in the case found that although the priest was clearly not an employee of the bishop, the nature of the appointment, status and oversight of his activities by the bishop was sufficient to fix the bishop with vicarious liability for the alleged abuse. Hollis and the trustees of the Diocese of Portsmouth have appealed against the judgement to the Court of Appeal. The substantive question of whether the alleged abuse took place will only be heard by the court when this preliminary legal point has been finally determined in the claimant's favour.[citation needed]