Westcountry's top Catholic clergyman Bishop Christopher Budd to retire after nearly 30 years
The Westcountry's leading Roman Catholic clergyman is set to retire after nearly three decades in his post.
Bishop Christopher Budd, 75, handed in his resignation letter last year and is likely to leave his post this year.
The leader of the Plymouth Diocese covering Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and the Isles of Scilly was enthroned in 1985.
His leadership has spanned across four decades, five prime ministers and three Church of England bishops in Exeter, including the Rt Rev Michael Langrish, who will step down in August.
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A spokesman for the Bishop said: "He tended his resignation last year, as is normal when bishops turn 75. This year will probably be his last year, although that is not yet confirmed.
"We are waiting for the Pope to find a suitable replacement. He is the fourth in line, meaning there are three other people before him.
"I would suspect someone else will be appointed this year, although it may take more time."
Tributes have been paid to the ministry of Bishop Budd who has been a priest for more than 50 years.
Lord John Burnett, a practising Catholic and former Westcountry MP, said: "I would like to pay tribute to Bishop Christopher Budd who has led the Plymouth Diocese with immeasurable conscience over the years.
"He will be greatly missed by Catholics in the diocese and members of other faiths."
Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, whose Ugbrooke estate has a long Catholic tradition, said: "He does not have an easy job. Although he has tended his resignation, it may be very difficult to find someone suitable to fulfil his role.
"It has been very pleasant to see him over the years, especially when he came here at the Millennium."
The Bishop of Plymouth celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 2011 at a Mass attended by more than 800 people, including around 30 bishops, and representatives of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
He celebrated his Golden Jubilee of priestly ordination in July last year.
Reflecting on his ministry in 2011, Bishop Budd said: "The celebration of a bishop's ministry should not principally focus on the person of the bishop. The proper focus is God's gift of episcopacy to the diocese; the particular bishop is always secondary to that."
The Right Reverend Christopher Budd was ordained a priest in July 1962 before being elevated to Bishop of Plymouth in November 1985.
He admitted he was "as surprised as anyone" when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation last week.
Bishop Budd said: "Clearly he has assessed himself, assessed his powers and decided that it is time he resigned."
In Sunday's Pastoral letter, he invited Catholics to re-establish the priority of God in their lives during Lent.