Graham Leonard

Last updated

Graham Leonard
Roman Catholic priest and
former Bishop of London
Other post(s)
  • 1947 (Anglican deacon)
  • 1948 (Anglican priest)
  • 23 April 1994 (Catholic priest)
Consecration1964 (Anglican bishop)
Personal details
Graham Douglas Leonard

(1921-05-08)8 May 1921
Died6 January 2010(2010-01-06) (aged 88)
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic
(previously Anglican)
ParentsDouglas Leonard and Emily Leonard (née Cheshire)
SpousePriscilla Swann (m. 1943)
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Military service
Branch/service British Army
Rank Captain
Unit Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Graham Douglas Leonard KCVO PC DL [1] (8 May 1921 – 6 January 2010) was an English Roman Catholic priest and former Anglican bishop. His principal ministry was as a bishop of the Church of England but, after his retirement as the Bishop of London, he became a Roman Catholic, becoming the most senior Anglican cleric to do so since the English Reformation. He was conditionally ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church and was later appointed a monsignor by Pope John Paul II. [2]


Early life

Born on 8 May 1921, Leonard was the son of Douglas Leonard, an Anglican priest, and his wife Emily Leonard (née Cheshire). He was educated at Monkton Combe School near Bath and at Balliol College, Oxford. During the Second World War he was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, rising to the rank of captain. He spent the latter part of the war attached to the Army Operational Research Group for the Ministry of Supply. He then attended Westcott House theological college in Cambridge. He was ordained as a deacon in 1947 and as a priest the following year. [3]

Early ministry

Leonard was a curate in St Ives, Huntingdonshire, and at Stansted, Essex. He then spent three years as vicar of Ardleigh, Essex. In 1957 he became a residentiary canon of St Albans Cathedral and the diocesan director of religious education. His long association with the Diocese of London began in 1962 when, before becoming the Bishop of Willesden (a suffragan bishopric in the diocese) in 1964, he was appointed as Archdeacon of Hampstead and as rector of St Andrew Undershaft with St Mary Axe in the City of London. [4]

Episcopal ministry

Leonard had three episcopal positions in the Church of England, firstly as the suffragan Bishop of Willesden in the Diocese of London and later as the diocesan Bishop of Truro (1973 to 1981) and the Bishop of London (1981 to 1991). [5] [6] [7] [8] During this last period he was also Dean of the Chapel Royal, [9] a Royal Household office, for which he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). [10] He was also Prelate of the Order of the British Empire. [11]

As the Bishop of London, Leonard was admired for his pastoral concern for female staff at Church House and had a considerable number of female workers in parishes in his diocese. He was notable for ordaining 71 women as deacons at St Paul's Cathedral on 22 March 1987, [12] but he remained an outspoken critic of moves to ordain women to the priesthood within the Anglican Communion.

In 1989, Leonard co-authored a book titled Let God be God with two Anglican theologians examining the issue of inclusive language in the church, giving particular attention to inclusive God language, of which they were especially critical:

this God and Lord ... is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Try as we may, we cannot see how we can accept God's self-revelation without also accepting that God has chosen to use certain male symbols and male language to express to us the kind of God 'he' is. To cease to use these terms is, to us, to discard that revelation." [13]

Ordination in the Roman Catholic Church

After his retirement Leonard eventually left the Church of England to become a Roman Catholic. On 23 April 1994 he was conditionally ordained as a priest (but not as a bishop) in the Roman Catholic Church. Although the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise the validity of Anglican ordinations, Leonard's ordination was conditional due to there being "prudent doubt" about his previous ordination in the Church of England, because at Leonard's own consecration in 1964 a bishop of an Old Catholic church of the Union of Utrecht (whose own ordination as a bishop was recognised as valid by the Roman Catholic Church) was among the bishops who consecrated him. [14] This eased his reception into the Roman Catholic Church, although his claim that he was legitimately a bishop and his request for a personal prelature were rejected. [15]

Leonard stated that he was not first ordained a deacon[ citation needed ] in the Roman Catholic Church and that Pope John Paul II's personal instruction was that he should be ordained immediately to the priesthood sub conditione. He was later appointed a papal chaplain with the title Monsignor and then a prelate of honour by the Pope on 3 August 2000. [16]


Leonard was the brother-in-law to the academic Michael Swann (Lord Swann of Coln St Denys) and Hugh Swann, cabinet maker to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, having married their sister, Priscilla Swann, in 1943. He and his wife had two sons.

Nine portraits of Leonard (1962 by Elliott & Fry and 1979 by Bassano and Vandyk) are owned by the National Portrait Gallery. [17]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders</span> Sacraments in some Christian churches

In certain Christian denominations, holy orders are the ordained ministries of bishop, priest (presbyter), and deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deacon</span> Office in Christian churches

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Anglican Communion, and the Free Church of England, view the diaconate as an order of ministry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ordination</span> Process by which individuals are consecrated as clergy

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. Clerical celibacy also requires abstention from deliberately indulging in sexual thoughts and behavior outside of marriage, because these impulses are regarded as sinful.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minister (Christianity)</span> Religious occupation in Christianity

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorised by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister. In some church traditions the term is usually used for people who have ordained, but in other traditions it can also be used for non-ordained people who have a pastoral or liturgical ministry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hierarchy of the Catholic Church</span> Organization of the Catholic Church

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.

Apostolicae curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void". The Anglican Communion made no official reply, but the archbishops of Canterbury and York of the Church of England published a response known by its Latin title Saepius officio in 1897.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican sacraments</span>

In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders in the Catholic Church</span> Ordination of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishops, priests, and deacons, in decreasing order of rank, collectively comprising the clergy. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" means "set apart for a sacred purpose". The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Priesthood in the Catholic Church</span> One of the three ordained holy orders of the Catholic Church

The priesthood is the office of the ministers of religion, who have been commissioned ("ordained") with the Holy orders of the Catholic Church. Technically, bishops are a priestly order as well; however, in layman's terms priest refers only to presbyters and pastors. The church's doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised (lay) members as the "common priesthood", which can be confused with the ministerial priesthood of the consecrated clergy.

Clerical celibacy is the discipline within the Catholic Church by which only unmarried men are ordained to the episcopate, to the priesthood in some autonomous particular Churches, and similarly to the diaconate. In other autonomous particular churches, the discipline applies only to the episcopate.

Cyril Easthaugh was a British Anglican bishop in the 20th Century. He was Bishop of Kensington from 1949 to 1961 and Bishop of Peterborough from 1961 to 1972.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Broadhurst</span> British Roman Catholic priest and former Anglican bishop

John Charles Broadhurst is an English priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Broadhurst was formerly a bishop of the Church of England and served as the Bishop of Fulham in the Diocese of London from 1996 to 2010. He resigned in order to be received into the Roman Catholic Church and became a priest in that church in 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrew Burnham (priest)</span>

Andrew Burnham is an English priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Burnham was formerly a bishop of the Church of England and served as the third Bishop of Ebbsfleet, a provincial episcopal visitor in the Province of Canterbury from 2000 to 2010. He resigned in order to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on 15 January 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Atwell</span>

Robert Ronald Atwell is a British Anglican bishop, writer, and former Benedictine monk. Since April 2014, he has been the Bishop of Exeter. From 2008 to 2014, he was Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edwin Barnes</span> British Roman Catholic priest (1935–2019)

Edwin Ronald Barnes was a British Roman Catholic priest and a former Church of England bishop. He was the Anglican Bishop of Richborough from 1995 to 2001 and was also formerly the president of the Church Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Silk (priest)</span> English Catholic priest and former Anglican bishop

Robert David Silk is an English priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He was formerly an Anglican bishop and was the Bishop of Ballarat in the Anglican Church of Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Entwistle</span> Australian priest

Harry Entwistle is an English-born Australian priest of the Catholic Church who was the first ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (2012–2019).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Langham</span> British priest (1960–2021)

Mark Anthony Edmund Langham was a Catholic priest who served in parishes in his native London, in the Vatican as an official working on inter-church relations and latterly as Catholic chaplain to the University of Cambridge at Fisher House.

Peter Donald Wilkinson is a Canadian Roman Catholic priest. He was formerly a bishop in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a Continuing Anglican church within the Traditional Anglican Communion. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 2012 and was ordained a Catholic priest and serves within the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.


  1. Debrett's – The Church of England: General Notes Archived 1 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Bishop of London who became the most senior Anglican defector to Rome since the Reformation", obituary in the Daily Telegraph , 7 January 2010, p. 31.
  3. Who's Who, 1987, p. 1071.
  4. "No. 43432". The London Gazette . 11 September 1964. p. 7670.
  5. "No. 46071". The London Gazette . 7 September 1973. p. 10695.
  6. "No. 48758". The London Gazette . 7 October 1981. p. 12687.
  7. "No. 48628". The London Gazette . 2 June 1981. p. 7523.
  8. "No. 52534". The London Gazette . 16 May 1991. p. 7593.
  9. "No. 48686". The London Gazette . 21 July 1981. p. 9605.
  10. "No. 52525". The London Gazette . 7 May 1991. p. 7063.
  11. "No. 48697". The London Gazette . 4 August 1981. p. 10105.
  12. Alan Webster, "Monsignor Graham Leinard obituary'", Guardian, 6 January 2010.
  13. Leonard, Graham; MacKenzie, Iain; Toon, Peter (1989). Let God be God. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. p. 5. ISBN   978-0232518528
  14. "Statement of Cardinal Hume on the Ordination of Anglican Bishop Leonard as a Roman Catholic Priest". The Catholic Resource Network. Trinity Communications. 1994. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  15. Christopher Ralls, "Mgr Graham Leonard. Obituary", The Tablet , 16 January 2010, p. 37.
  16. "The Rt Rev Mgr Graham Leonard". The Telegraph. London. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  17. National Portrait Gallery Graham Douglas Leonard
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of Willesden
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Truro
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of London
Succeeded by