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Church of England clergy 'hide from constant callers', study shows

image captionDr Nigel Peyton said the reality of clerical life could be seen in the "very accurate sitcom Rev"

Church of England clergy sometimes "hide from constant callers" to take a break from the pressure of church life, a Lancaster University study has found.

Researchers interviewed 46 deans to find "the personal costs of committing yourself to God".

Study leader Dr Caroline Gatrell said findings showed that "living in the vicarage is different from what you would do in most jobs".

As a result, clergy "developed strategies for coping," she added.

She said being a parish vicar could impact heavily on home life.

'Pretended to be out'

"Some found their vicarages were used as the parish office and there'd be a secretary in one of the back bedrooms.

"Also, there would be community lunches and one guy said it was common for people to wander into his home and start helping themselves to the contents of his cupboards.

"He said he had felt conflicted, because his wife had got quite upset but he wanted to be seen as a good host and a good vicar."

She said one interviewee said they worked to "preserve bank holidays and if they did not actually go out, they hid".

"They put the car in the garage and shut the door and went upstairs to a room at the back of the house, pulled all the blinds and watched TV and read with their family.

"If someone knocked on the door, they pretended to be out."

She said that not every interviewee used such methods and that some said that "the priesthood came first".

The Right Reverend Dr Nigel Peyton, who co-authored the study, said it was "revealing that every interview was interrupted in some way by a caller at the door or on the phone".

Dr Peyton, who worked within the Church of England before becoming the Bishop of Brechin, said "being a priest is like being a monarch, as you can't resign and your job is your life".

"As the vicar in the very accurate sitcom Rev said, 'there is no such thing as a day off when you are a vicar'.

"You do not have the same opportunities or freedom as other people and this does entail sacrifices."

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