The Right Reverend
Eryl Stephen Thomas
|Bishop of Llandaff|
|Diocese||Diocese of Llandaff|
|Elected||4 October 1970|
|Other posts||Bishop of Monmouth (1970–1975)|
|Consecration||29 March 1968|
|Born||20 October 1910|
Llangadwaladr, Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
An Anglesey man, after education at St John's College, Oxford, Eryl Thomas served curacies in the Diocese of St Asaph before being appointed to a parish (Risca) in South Wales then as Warden of St Michael's College, Llandaff. He was appointed Dean of Llandaff in 1954., and in this post completed the restoration of the war-damaged cathedral begun under his predecessor Glyn Simon.
Stephen Thomas was in many ways a charismatic figure, he was renowned for his pastoral and preaching gifts, but he could also divide opinion. He vigorously exposed an important case of misuse of funds in the Church in Wales, incurring thereby some ill-will, and his sociable manner, coupled with his opposition to the Sunday Closing legislation which closed Welsh public houses on the first day of the week irritated Nonconformist abstentionists. A prominent representative of the Anglo-Catholic school of theology, he seems however to have avoided the narrowness of outlook of some more conservative Christians and played an important role in Jewish-Christian dialogue in the Cardiff area.
There is some suggestion that Thomas was considered as a candidate for episcopal appointments during the 1950s, but was not in the event chosen to head a diocese until 1968 when he was elected and consecrated as Bishop of Monmouth. He was translated to Llandaff in 1970.
As bishop of Monmouth he was faced with the problem of redundant rural churches the existence of many of which derived from medieval manorial divisions. He argued unsuccessfully for standard modern Welsh orthography in parish names. He was critical of permissive developments in theatrical writing.
In 1975 Thomas was convicted of gross indecency which resulted in a fine, prior to which he felt obliged to resign, and he remained outside public ministry for a number of years. Although the content of the case might now be seen as indicating that Thomas was bisexual, he made no public statements concerning his orientation and remained married to and supported by his wife Jean, (with whom he had four children). His appointment as Assistant Bishop in the diocese of Swansea and Brecon from 1988 saw a return to pastoral and episcopal work in the remaining years of his life.
Politically Thomas is known to have been on friendly terms with the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and a letter, which is in the public domain refers to her gratitude for his encouragement "when times are difficult and criticism is so cruel". It is not clear to what extent his political leanings were towards the Conservative Party, but the content of the letter makes reference to a television interview with Thatcher in an edition of the Thames Television programme "TV Eye" which Thomas had seen. Although Thatcher invites Thomas to "Please write again" it is not known whether any further correspondence survives.
- “Who was Who” 1897-2007 London, A & C Black, 2007 ISBN 978-0-19-954087-7
- Jones, O.W,1981, Glyn Simon: His Life and Opinions, Llandyssul, Gomer
- Peart-Binns J.S, 1990: Edwin Morris, Archbishop of Wales, Llandyssul, Gomer Press.
- The Times, Wednesday, Oct 29, 1975; pg. 2; Issue 59539; col D Bishop accused of indecency
- Norman Doe (5 March 2020). A New History of the Church in Wales: Governance and Ministry, Theology and Society. Cambridge University Press. pp. 110–. ISBN 978-1-108-49957-6.
- Margaret Thatcher Archives, Letter from Margaret Thatcher to Bishop Eryl Stephen Thomas, February 24, 1982, accessed September 29, 2015
|Church in Wales titles|
Alfred Edwin Morris
| Bishop of Monmouth
| Bishop of Llandaff