Asylum and baptism
SIR – I learn with curiosity your interview with Rev Matthew Firth (February 9) relating to spurious baptisms of asylum seekers. I used to be made conscious of this downside after I was a curate in Eastbourne.
I began making ready an Iranian girl for baptism and was vastly helped by an Iranian pastor in Brighton who checked the veracity of her Christian career. After I expressed shock at what number of occasions he needed to see her, he stated there have been many fakes.
This was in 1999. It appears that evidently bishops within the Church of England have some catching as much as do with regards to figuring out what parish clergy are coping with on the coalface of ministry.
Rev James Paice
SIR – Your report, “Church accused of working ‘conveyor belt’ of asylum seeker baptisms” (February 9), comprises an imaginative vary of allegations from Rev Matthew Firth, who resigned as a priest within the diocese of Durham in 2020.
Mr Firth doesn’t supply any proof to help these claims, nevertheless a test of the parish data reveals that the portrayal of a “conveyer belt” of functions is distant from actuality. In reality, a complete of 15 individuals (13 adults, two infants) who might have been asylum seekers have been baptised over the previous 10 years. Of those, seven have been baptised by Mr Firth himself.
As priest in cost, he could have been conscious of his accountability to test the authenticity of candidates. If there was something amiss, Mr Firth ought to have reported it. Had he raised considerations with senior workers throughout his time at St Cuthbert’s, they’d in fact have been taken significantly and investigated. He didn’t accomplish that.
Rt Rev Paul Butler
Bishop of Durham