Manchester, England
Manchester, EnglandiStock

A retired Anglican priest has been found guilty of ‘engaging in antisemitic activity’ by a Church of England investigative panel in a historic ruling.

Rev Dr Stephen Sizer was found culpable by the panel for acts that “provoked and offended the Jewish community,” according to the UK Jewish News. The investigation including examining a “serious allegation” in which the priest was found to have “engaged in antisemitic activity.”

The complaint was made to the Church of England by the Board of Deputies in 2018.

The retired priest was the vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, for 20 years. He has denied the 11 allegations relating to his actions in 2005 through to 2018, including posting a link on Facebook in January 2015 to an article accusing Israel of being behind 9/11.

The hearing found that in four of the instances, Sizer’s behavior was “unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders, in that he provoked and offended the Jewish community.”

The Church of England said in a statement after the ruling that Sizer “has committed misconduct under the Clergy Discipline Measure” and that a tribunal was “determine a penalty.”

It also said that it was “committed to building cohesive communities and fostering strong interfaith relations built on trust and respect.”

The Church added that “antisemitism has no place in our society and those in positions of power and influence must listen to concerns about it.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl applauded the decision by the panel.

”I commend the tribunal’s decision in the case of Stephen Sizer. In an unprecedented judgement it was found ‘engaged in antisemitic activity’, repeated conduct ‘unbecoming of a Church of England minister and engaged in conduct that ‘provoked and offended the Jewish community over a sustained period,” Van der Zyl told the news outlet. “He was also criticized for being ‘disingenuous in his answers.’”