Born on 21st October 1943 in Battersea, London, Archbishop Peter Smith was educated at Clapham College; Exeter University, LLB; St. John's Seminary, Wonersh; Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, JCD 1977.
He was ordained on 5th July 1972. He served as assistant priest at St. Francis, Stockwell from 1972-74. He was Professor of Canon Law St. John's Seminary Wonersh 1977-84. From 1984-1985, he was Parish Administrator at St. Andrew's, Thornton Heath and then from 1985-1995 he was Rector at St. John's Seminary, Wonersh.
He was appointed Bishop of East Anglia from 1995 until 2001, when he became Archbishop of Cardiff. Archbishop Peter has been Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales since 1998. He has also been the Chairman of the Catholic Truth Society (1993 - 2007). He was Chairman of the Central Religious Advisory Committee (CRAC) of the BBC and ITC from 2001-2004. He was appointed a Sub-Prelate and Chaplain of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 2002. He became an Honorary Fellow University of Wales, Lampeter in 2004.
On the 30th April 2010 the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Peter to succeed Archbishop Kevin McDonald to the See of Southwark.
Further news from the Bishops Conference website:
“After eight very happy years in the Archdiocese of Cardiff, I am very sad to be leaving Wales.
“Over these years I have enjoyed working with the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Archdiocese in Wales and Herefordshire and thank them for their help and co-operation in so many areas of Diocesan life and work. I am especially grateful for their support in bringing about the re-organisation of pastoral provision for the Catholic community, and fostering the mission of the Church in so many ways. My experience of the Archdiocese is that the spirit of St. David is still very much alive and summed up in his dying words: 'Be joyful; keep the faith.'
“I should also like to thank the leaders of the other Christian Churches communities, and the leaders of other faiths in Wales. We have enjoyed a fruitful dialogue and relationship to the benefit of our particular communities and wider society. I have found the civic authorities, in particular the Welsh Assembly Government and Local Authorities, have been unfailingly courteous and helpful, as has the local media. I am deeply grateful for that too.
“I shall never forget the warmth and generosity of the people of Wales, not only the Catholic community but so many others, and their great sense of humour and cheerfulness.
“However, my sadness at leaving is tempered by the prospect of returning to my roots in South London and going home to the Archdiocese in which I was born and for which I was ordained a priest in 1972. I am very much looking forward to that and to serving the people, religious, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark as their Bishop. It is good to be returning home, although I feel there is part of me which will always have a 'second home' in Wales.”
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: “I am delighted at the appointment of Archbishop Peter Smith as Archbishop of Southwark, while at the same time sympathising with the priests, religious and people of Cardiff. Archbishop Peter is an outstanding and experienced leader. He will be warmly welcomed back to his home diocese, just as he will be sorely missed in Cardiff. I can assure him of the prayers and good wishes of us all.”
Bishop John Hine, who will continue as Diocesan Administrator in Southwark until the installation of Archbishop Peter Smith on 10 June, said:
“The priests and people of Southwark are absolutely delighted about the news of the appointment of Archbishop Peter Smith to our Diocese. He is, of course, well known to so many of us and we can hardly believe our good fortune that he will back here leading us at this very significant phase of our Diocesan story.”