Tom Burns (bishop)

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Thomas Matthew Burns

Bishop of Menevia
Appointed16 October 2008
Installed1 December 2008
Term ended11 July 2019
PredecessorJohn Mark Jabalé
Ordination16 December 1971
Consecration18 June 2002
by Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
Personal details
Birth nameThomas Matthew Burns
Born (1944-06-03) 3 June 1944 (age 75)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous postBishop of the Forces

Thomas Matthew Burns, SM (called Tom;[1] born 3 June 1944) is a British Roman Catholic Bishop. On 16 October 2008 he was appointed as Bishop of Menevia by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming Bishop on 1 December 2008 when he took possession of his new See, on which day he ceased to be Bishop of the Forces.[2] He is now Bishop Promoter for the Apostleship of the Sea, A Catholic organisation that provides pastoral and practical assistance to all seafarers. It was announced in July 2019 that Bishop Tom had retired from the role of Bishop of Menevia after 11 years with a replacement to be appointed forthwith.


Tom Burns was born in Belfast,[2] but his family later moved to Lancashire. After studying at St. Mary's College, Blackburn, a sixth form in an Exeter school, and a monastery in Paignton, Burns was ordained to the priesthood on 16 December 1971, for the Society of Mary.[2][1]

On 24 May 2002, he was appointed to head the military ordinariate of Great Britain, the Bishopric of the Forces. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 18 June from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, with Bishop Francis Walmsley and Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly serving as co-consecrators.[1]

Burns has been a vociferous critic of the UK Ministry of Defence, complaining that troops in Iraq were "frustrated by restrictions, checks and delays that are placed on them but not on their opponents", and that their "activities are often jeopardised by poor equipment, outmoded vehicles and inadequate apparel".[3]

He also voiced criticism against Harriet Harman MP's Equality Bill, which helped lead to its withdrawal, Bishop Burns felt that it would force the Catholic Church to govern itself as an industry or business, employing priests as employees, when in fact, the Church looks upon its priests as "Brothers of Christ".[citation needed]

On 11th July 2019 Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the bishop having reached the age of 75. A farewell and thanksgiving Mass was held on 23rd July 2019 to mark the beginning of the Bishop’s retirement.


  1. ^ a b c "The Right Reverend Thomas Matthew Burns". The Diocese of Menevia. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  3. ^ The Independent news story Archived 27 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francis Joseph Walmsley
Bishop of the Forces
Succeeded by
Richard Moth
Preceded by
John Mark Jabalé
Bishop of Menevia
2008 – 2019
Succeeded by