A British Anglican priest whose longtime opposition to Israel’s activities was found to have spilled over into anti-semitism will not be allowed to perform clerical duties until 2030, a Church of England tribunal ruled Monday.
The Rev. Stephen Sizer was suspended from clerical duties in 2018 over anti-semitic statements, and was convicted at a church trial in December 2022. The latest tribunal ruled that Mr. Sizer should be banned from clerical functions for 12 years, and that his current suspension should be counted towards that sentence.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and the putative head of the world’s Anglicans, said in a statement that Mr. Sizer “has undermined Christian-Jewish relations, giving encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes that have no place in public Christian ministry and the church.”
“I renew my call for the highest possible standards among ordained ministers of the Church of England in combatting antisemitism of all kinds,” he said.
Mr. Sizer, a noted critic of Israel and of so-called “Christian Zionists” — chiefly evangelicals who support the Jewish state — was convicted in December on four counts of “unbecoming” conduct for a clergyman. The offenses included posting on a Facebook link to an article alleging Israel was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks; speaking at a conference that included a Holocaust denier; meeting with a senior Hezbollah official in 2006; and online postings of other articles repeating the 9/11 accusation.
London’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper reported that Mr. Sizer said he was expressing protected political opinions.
When convicted in December on four of the 11 charges against him, Mr. Sizer apologized.
“I am most grateful to the Tribunal for the careful way in which they approached the evidence and reached their conclusions,” he said in a statement. “I accept those conclusions and the criticisms of my conduct, and apologize unreservedly for the hurt and offense caused. As I said at the time, I am particularly sorry that I posted a link on Facebook in January 2015 to an article blaming Israel for 9/11, and repeat my apology for the deep hurt that my conduct caused.”
That apparently wasn’t enough for the tribunal, which said its verdict was “unanimous.”
Mr. Sizer did not immediately post a statement responding to the decision.