Canon Peter Collins – Bishop-Elect of East Anglia
Submitted by a priest from Wales
On 11th October 2022, it was announced that Pope Francis had appointed as the fifth Bishop of East Anglia, Canon Peter Collins of the Archdiocese of Cardiff.
Peter Gwilym Collins was born on the 13th May 1958 in Tredegar, a small town in South Wales. The youngest of four children, he was raised with his three older sisters in the nearby village of Rhymney. After completing secondary education at Bishop Hedley High School in Merthyr Tydfil, he was accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cardiff under Archbishop John A. Murphy in 1978 and sent to the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain. After his ordination to the Priesthood in July 1984, he was appointed as curate at St. David’s Cathedral in Cardiff, and from 1986 – 1988 curate in Bridgend.
In 1989, after just five years of priesthood, Peter Collins was appointed vice-rector of the Royal English College in Valladolid, remaining in that role until 1994 when he returned to Cardiff as Parish Priest of Chepstow and Caldicot until 2001, and as Dean of the Cathedral until 2019. Since then he has been Parish Priest of St. Mary of the Angels in Canton. He has also undertaken a number of roles within the Archdiocese of Cardiff, most notably in the area of Safeguarding where he has served in various capacities for over twenty-eight years.
Listening to his performance on the internet, it must be asked where and why Peter Collins has acquired his rather strange way of speaking. His accent certainly wasn’t nurtured in his hometown of Rhymney, but pretending at being posh and ‘refined’ is a pastime for a few Cardiff priests. However, the psychology which causes grown men to reinvent themselves in this way is interesting to say the very least. Is Collins ashamed of where he is from? Is he ashamed of his parents and the family in which he was raised? I’m sure he didn’t learn to speak like that in Rhymney.
Contacts amongst the clergy in Cardiff are not at all surprised by this appointment as it has been something which, despite his protestations of shock at hearing the news, the Bishop-Elect has been working towards throughout his entire career. However, they and others remain perplexed as to how an individual as boring, dull, self-important, and incompetent as Peter Collins could, in this day and age, actually be successful in that plight. Most concerningly, these same contacts tell of a man who is angry and prepared to use his roles as a weapon, and as a tool for power and control. A previous Archbishop of Cardiff lived life of questionable morality – Peter Smith was known to have frequented male prostitutes throughout his time in Cardiff.
Far from taking action against this person, or at the very least distancing himself from him, Collins associated with him for years.
Questions have also been raised about Peter Collins’ time as vice-rector of Valladolid. One former student who claims to have suffered under him says that he took a disturbingly zealous interest in the moral lives of the seminarians. Whatever happened in Valladolid ensured that that particular fast-rising star slowed down considerably, and having been overlooked time and time again for the various Welsh dioceses over the last 25 years has now been given, at going on 65 years of age, a diocese at the other end of the country for which few people are less suitable.
With his episcopal ordination scheduled for the 14th of December, we should wish the clergy and people of East Anglia the very best of luck. Seemingly they will need it.
It’s hardly surprising that “company men” are appointed bishops in the UK and everywhere.
It’s all about keeping the status quo and watching each other’s backs.
As we often say on here, it’s just about managing decline. As the Scripture says:
“There is neither priest nor prophet to ply his trade in the land“.
And, how ridiculous it is to be taking on such a big job at 65 – the age most other jobs regard as the retiring age?