The Bishop of Lincoln has been suspended from office by the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to a safeguarding children inquiry.
Justin Welby announced that action had been taken against Christopher Lowson after information was passed over by the police.
He added that should the ‘matters be proven’, the bishop would present ‘a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people’.
Mr Lowson said he was ‘bewildered’ by the suspension but would fully cooperate with the church’s inquiries.
The Bishop of Lincoln (left) has been suspended from office by the Archbishop of Canterbury (right) in relation to a safeguarding children inquiry
Last month, a BBC Panorama investigation found that clergy and staff from the Lincoln Diocese were referred to police in 2015 after church leaders had allegedly ‘turned a blind eye’ to claims of child abuse.
Lincolnshire Police and the Lincoln Diocese investigated 25 people over alleged abuse from a list of 53 names which were passed to officers, with three cases leading to convictions.
The programme said some of the names could have been referred years earlier as part of the Church of England’s national Past Cases Review.
It examined tens of thousands of church records in 2008 and 2009 to discover whether abuse cases had slipped through the net.
The Queen walks alongside the Bishop of Lincoln in 2014
The programme also claimed two former Lincoln Diocese bishops were made aware of abuse concerns at the time but failed to act.
In a statement today, Justin Welby said: ‘Following information provided by the police, I have suspended the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson from office, having obtained the consent of the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester (the two longest serving bishops in the Province of Canterbury).
‘If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.
‘I would like to make it absolutely clear that there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.
‘The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, will take on episcopal leadership of the diocese.
‘It should be noted that suspension is a neutral act and nothing further can be said at this stage while matters are investigated. I ask for prayers for all affected by this matter.’
The Bishop of Lincoln said: ‘I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter.
‘For the sake of the diocese and the wider Church I would like this to be investigated as quickly as possible to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.’
Last month, a BBC investigation found that clergy and staff from the Lincoln Diocese were referred to police in 2015 after church leaders had allegedly ‘turned a blind eye’ to claims of child abuse