Robert Byrne (bishop)

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Robert Byrne

Former Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
Fr Robert Byrne CO (5010370230).jpg
ChurchCatholic Church
DioceseHexham and Newcastle
SeeHexham and Newcastle
Appointed4 February 2019
Installed25 March 2019
Term ended12 December 2022
PredecessorSéamus Cunningham
Ordination5 January 1985
by Maurice Couve de Murville
Consecration13 May 2014
by Bernard Longley
Personal details
Born (1956-09-22) 22 September 1956 (age 66)
Manchester, England
DenominationRoman Catholicism
Previous post(s)
  • Titular Bishop of Cuncacestre (2014–2019)
  • Auxiliary Bishop in Birmingham (2014–2019)
EducationSt Bede's College, Manchester
Alma materKing's College, London
Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas
MottoSoli Deo (To God Alone)
Coat of armsRobert Byrne's coat of arms

Robert Byrne, C.O. (born 22 September 1956) is a retired British Roman Catholic bishop. From 2019 to his resignation in 2022, he served as the 14th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. He previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Titular Bishop of Cuncacestre. He is the first Oratorian to be appointed a bishop in England since 1874.


Early life[edit]

Byrne was born on 22 September 1956 in Manchester, England.[1][2] He was educated at St Bede's College, Manchester, an independent Catholic school. He studied at King's College, London and at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.[2]

Priesthood and Religious Life[edit]

Byrne entered the Birmingham Oratory in 1980.[2] On 5 January 1985, he was ordained to the priesthood by Maurice Couve de Murville, the then Archbishop of Birmingham.[3][4] In 1990, he moved to Oxford where he founded the Oxford Oratory.[4] From 1990 to 1999, he was Parish Priest of the Parish of St Aloysius, Oxford.[2] From 1993 to 2011, he served as the elected Provost of Oxford Oratory.[2][4]

Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham[edit]

In March 2014, Pope Francis appointed him an Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Birmingham.[4] As such, he became the first Oratorian to be appointed a bishop in England since 1874 when Edward Bagshawe was appointed Bishop of Nottingham.[2][4][5] On 13 May 2014, he was consecrated to the episcopate as the Titular Bishop of Cuncacestre.[3][6] The principal consecrator was Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham, and the co-consecrators were Michael C. Barber SJ, the bishop of Oakland, and Philip Pargeter, his predecessor as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.[3] His pastoral area within the Archdiocese of Birmingham covers six deaneries: Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham North, Birmingham South, Birmingham East, Kidderminster, and Worcester.[2]

Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle[edit]

On 4 February 2019, Pope Francis appointed Byrne the next Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, in succession to Séamus Cunningham. He was enthroned as the 14th bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle during a Mass at St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle on 25 March 2019.[7][8]

On 12 December 2022, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from his bishopric, nine years before the normal retirement age mandated by Catholic canon law.[9][10] In a statement, the bishop said that the duties of his office had "become too great a burden to bear".[11]

It was reported on Sunday, 22 January 2023, that the Vatican was investigating rumours of a sex party at St Mary's Cathedral.[12] As part of the investigation into the resignation of Byrne, the Church was looking into claims one of his priests invited worshippers to a party in his quarters attached to the cathedral during lockdown. The priest, Michael McCoy, dean of the cathedral, killed himself four days after finding out he was being investigated by police for child sexual abuse. In a letter seen by The Sunday Times[13] Malcolm McMahon, archbishop of Liverpool, who is leading the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Byrne's resignation, said he has been asked by the pope’s advisers to prepare “an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”.

Police Referral[edit]

On 23rd January 2023 the Catholic Herald confirmed that Robert had been reported to the police on an allegation of abuse from a Catholic priest.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile: Rt Rev Robert Byrne C.O." CBCEW. Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Pope appoints Fr Robert Byrne as new Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham". Catholic News. Catholic Trust for England and Wales. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Cheney, David M. "Bishop Robert Byrne, C.O." Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 27 January 2017.[self-published source]
  4. ^ a b c d e "Pope appoints first Oratorian bishop in England for 140 years". Catholic Herald. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Father Robert to be made a Bishop". The Oxford Oratory. The Oxford Oratory Trust. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Consecration of Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong. Orat". The Oxford Oratory. The Oxford Oratory Trust. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Pope Francis appoints Bishop Robert Byrne as the fourteenth Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle". Catholic News. The Catholic Church for England and Wales. 4 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  8. ^ Newcastle, Diocese of Hexham and (25 March 2019), Episcopal Installation of Bishop Robert Byrne CO, retrieved 13 January 2023
  9. ^ "Rinunce e nomine". Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  10. ^ "CanonLaw.Ninja - Search Results". CanonLaw.Ninja. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  11. ^ james (12 December 2022). "Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle announces resignation". Catholic Bishops' Conference. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  12. ^ "Vatican investigating rumours of 'sex party' at Newcastle cathedral". the Guardian. 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  13. ^ Pepinster, David Collins and Catherine. "Vatican investigates 'lockdown sex party in British cathedral'". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
2019 – 2022
Succeeded by