Richard Harries, Baron Harries of Pentregarth

Richard Harries, Baron Harries of Pentregarth

Infobox_Person | name = The Rt Revd and Rt Hon.
The Lord Harries of Pentregarth
other_names = Richard Douglas Harries

caption = Speaking at the Friends meeting house, Oxford, in 2004
birth_date = Birth date and age|1936|6|2|df=y
occupation =
title = Bishop of Oxford
salary =
term = 1987–2006
predecessor = Patrick Campbell Rodger
successor = John Lawrence Pritchard
religion = Church of England
spouse = Josephine Bottomley
children = 1 son, 1 daughter
relatives =
website =
footnotes =

Richard Douglas Harries, Baron Harries of Pentregarth (born June 2 1936) is a retired bishop of the Church of England, and was the 41st Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006.

Education and army career

Richard Harries was educated at Wellington College and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals on 16 December 1955, [LondonGazette|issue=40719|supp=yes|startpage=1222|date=24 February 1956|accessdate=2008-10-10] he was promoted to lieutenant two years later. [LondonGazette|issue=41254|supp=yes|startpage=7343|date=13 December 1957|accessdate=2008-10-10] He left the active Regular Army on 12 September 1958 (transferring to the reserve of officers), [LondonGazette|issue=41517|supp=yes|startpage=6161|date=7 October 1958|accessdate=2008-10-10] and went up to Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he read theology (BA 1961, MA 1965), before going on to the former Cuddesdon College (1961-63) to study for ordination. He formally resigned his original army commission on 18 March 1965, [LondonGazette|issue=43632|supp=yes|startpage=4000|date=20 April 1965|accessdate=2008-10-10] but was immediately recommissioned as Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class [4th Class Chaplains wear the same rank insignia as captains in other corps of the British Army.] in the Territorial Army, [LondonGazette|issue=43657|supp=yes|startpage=5063|date=21 May 1965|accessdate=2008-10-10] on 29 October 1969 he once more transferred to the reserve. [LondonGazette|issue=44982|supp=yes|startpage=12235|date=8 December 1969|accessdate=2008-10-10]

Church ministry

Richard Harries was ordained deacon in 1963, becoming Assistant Curate of Hampstead St John in the Diocese of London (1963-69). He was ordained priest the following year and later combined his ministry at St John's with the chaplaincy of the former Westfield College (now part of Queen Mary, University of London) (1967-69). He became a Tutor at Wells Theological College (1969-71) and was then Warden of the new Salisbury and Wells Theological College (1971-72).

He returned to parish ministry as Vicar of All Saints, Fulham (1972-81) and reverted to academia as Dean of King's College London (1981-87). He was appointed Bishop of Oxford in 1987, [LondonGazette|issue=50902|startpage=5541|date=27 April 1987|accessdate=2008-10-10] taking a seat as a Lord Spiritual in the House of Lords in 1993. In 1999 he was appointed to the Royal Commission investigating a possible reorganisation of the House of Lords. ["London Gazette": [ no. 55419 (notice view only)] 4 March 1999. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.] He retired on June 2, 2006, his 70th birthday. In the previous week, on May 26, 2006, Downing Street announced that he was to be made a life peer, and he was gazetted as Baron Harries of Pentregarth, of Ceinewydd in the County of Dyfed on June 30 2006. [LondonGazette|issue=58037|notarchive=yes|startpage=9193|date=6 July 2006|accessdate=2008-10-10] He sits as a cross-bencher. On 4 August 2006 he was appointed to the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved for a period of five years. [LondonGazette|issue=58062|notarchive=yes|startpage=10685|date=4 August 2006|accessdate=2007-11-21]

Other activities

In 1986 Richard Harries took up a subsidiary appointment as Consultant to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Inter-Faith Relations. As Bishop of Oxford he became a founder member of the Oxford Abrahamic Group, bringing together Christian, Muslim, and Jewish scholars. He chaired the Council of Christians and Jews from 1992 until 2001. In 1988 he was president of the Johnson Society, delivering a Presidential Address on "Johnson – A Church of England Saint". He has been a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (including serving as Chair of the HFEA Ethics and Law Committee) and a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, as well as chairing the House of Lords Select Committee (Westminster System) on Stem Cell Research. He was Chairman of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility (1996–2001) and Chairman of the House of Bishops' Working Party on Issues in Human Sexuality and has served on the Board of Christian Aid. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords (the Wakeham Commission). A regular contributor to the "Today" programme on BBC Radio 4, including many appearances on "Thought for the Day", he has published three books of radio talks. He is a patron of POWER International ( a charity working with disabled people in poor countries.

Richard Harries was appointed a Fellow of King's College London (FKC) in 1983, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1996, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2004. In 1994 he became a Doctor of Divinity "honoris causa" of the University of London and in 2001 he was honoured with the degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) by Oxford Brookes University. In 2002 he was Visiting Professor at Liverpool Hope University College.

Legacy and reputation

As Bishop of Oxford, and now as Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Richard Harries has been known as a liberal reformer noted for his opposition to Section 28 and for his appointment of the gay canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading in 2003, from which Jeffrey John subsequently withdrew amid controversy over homosexual clergy. Some mistakenly believe that Jeffrey John was not appointed because of the threat to the financial stability of the Oxford Diocese by traditionalist churches' withdrawing their support if he were made Bishop. This was never a serious threat. Much more significant was the pressure by conservative provinces in Africa and South America on the Archbishop of Canterbury. They threatened an impaired communion with Canterbury if the consecration went ahead. Another factor was the threat of legal action against both the Archbishop and the Bishop of Oxford by senior conservative churchmen within the Oxford Diocese. This threat of legal action caused senior advisors to the Archbishop including his provincial registrar, John Rees, to persuade the Archbishop to ask Jeffrey John to withdraw his nomination by the Crown.

His passion for social justice informed his liberal views. At the start of his episcopacy, he sought a judicial review of the Church Commissioners' policy on investment, arguing that the Church should be free to invest its money in accordance with its ethical principles. Although his main challenge failed, he won an important concession for all charities, as the court ruled that if a significant number of a charity's members were dissuaded from giving, or receiving from, that charity because of its investment policy, that policy should be changed. In 2002 Harries joined the biologist Richard Dawkins in denouncing the Emmanuel Schools Foundation for teaching creationism.


*"Turning to Prayer" (Mowbray, 1978), ISBN 0-264-66492-2
*"Prayers of Grief and Glory" (Lutterworth Press, 1979), ISBN 0-7188-2424-5
*"Being a Christian" (Mowbray, 1981), ISBN 0-264-66561-9 (published in the U.S. as "What Christians Believe")
*"Should a Christian Support Guerrillas?" (Lutterworth Press, 1982), ISBN 0-7188-2517-9
*"What Hope in an Armed World?" (Pickering & Inglis, 1982), ISBN 0-7208-0526-0 (ed.)
*"The Authority of Divine Love" (Blackwell, 1983), ISBN 0-631-13205-8
*"Praying Round the Clock" (Mowbray, 1983), ISBN 0-264-66795-6
*"Seasons of the Spirit: Readings Through the Christian Year (ed. with George Every and Kallistos Ware)" (SPCK, 1984), ISBN 0-281-04090-7 (published in the U.S. as "The Time of the Spirit")
*"Morning Has Broken: Thoughts and Prayers from BBC Radio 4's "Today" Programme" (Marshalls, 1985), ISBN 0-551-01178-5
*"Prayer and the Pursuit of Happiness" (Fount, 1985), ISBN 0-00-626650-9
*"Reinhold Niebuhr and the Issues of Our Time" (Mowbray, 1986), ISBN 0-264-67051-5 (ed.)
*"Christianity & War in a Nuclear Age" (Mowbray, 1986), ISBN 0-264-67053-1
*"The One Genius: Readings Through the Year with Austin Farrer" (SPCK, 1987), ISBN 0-281-04269-1
*"Christ Is Risen" (Mowbray, 1987), ISBN 0-264-67107-4
*"Evidence for the Love of God" (Mowbray, 1987), ISBN 0-264-67115-5
*"C. S. Lewis: The Man and His God" (Fount, 1987), ISBN 0-00-627143-X
*"Shalom and Pax: Christian Concepts of Peace" (Oxford Project for Peace Studies, 1990), ISBN 1-871191-21-1
*"Is There a Gospel for the Rich?: Christian Obedience in a Capitalist World" (Mowbray, 1992), ISBN 0-264-67276-3
*"Art and the Beauty of God: A Christian Understanding" (Mowbray, 1993), ISBN 0-264-67306-9
*"The Real God: A Response to Anthony Freeman's "God in Us" (Mowbray, 1994), ISBN 0-264-67384-0
*"A Gallery of Reflections: The Nativity of Christ" (Lion, 1995), ISBN 0-7459-2826-9
*"Questioning Belief" (SPCK, 1995), ISBN 0-281-04885-1
*"Two Cheers for Secularism" (Pilkington Press, 1998), ISBN 1-899044-16-7 (ed. with Sidney Brichto)
*"In the Gladness of Today: Thoughts for the Day" (Fount, 1999), ISBN 0-00-628149-4
*"Christianity: Two Thousand Years" (Oxford University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-19-924485-5 (ed. with Henry Mayr-Harting)
*"God Outside the Box: Why Spiritual People Object to Christianity" (SPCK, 2002), ISBN 0-281-05522-X
*"After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust" (Oxford University Press, 2003), ISBN 0-19-926313-2
*"The Passion in Art" (Ashgate, 2004), ISBN 0-7546-5010-3
*"Abraham's Children: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Conversation" (T&T Clark, 2005), ISBN 0-567-08171-0 (ed. with Norman Solomon and Tim Winter)

Further reading

*cite book|last=Brierley|first=Michael (ed.)|title=Public Life and the Place of the Church: Reflections to Honour the Bishop of Oxford|year=2006|publisher=Ashgate|location=Aldershot|id=ISBN 0-7546-5300-5
*cite book|last=Peart-Binns|first=John S.|title=Heart in My Head: A Biography of Richard Harries|year=2007|publisher=Continuum|location=London|id=ISBN 0-8264-8154-X Forthcoming.

ee also

* Dr Spacely-Trellis


External links

* [ Official Announcement of his Peerage]
* [ Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords] House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 25 July 2006

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