THE Bishop of Bath and Wells is retiring early due to his cancer battle.

The Right Reverend Peter Hancock is currently recovering from treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.

He has been receiving treatment since last August.

READ MORE: Bishop of Bath and Wells Rt Rev Peter Hancock has leukaemia

In a letter to the diocese, he wrote that while he had been hoping to return to work before long, his hospital consultant has said he will need to spend many months recovering.

“So after much prayer and reflection, I believe this means that I need to take early retirement on medical grounds," he said.

“After seven years as Bishop of Bath and Wells I could not be more grateful for all the opportunities that I have had to serve the diocese and during this time I have met so many inspiring, faithful, creative, and courageous people and visited so many wonderful places.

"I don’t yet know what lies ahead, but I am sure the Lord will continue to lead and guide me and provide opportunities for ministry and service in the future. I remain hopeful and confident in his future for me.

“I am very aware of the challenges we are all facing and the extra burdens and responsibilities that we are all carrying.

"I am therefore particularly grateful for all that you are doing to sustain and support the life of the diocese and especially for all that Bishop Ruth has been doing as Acting Diocesan Bishop.

"The diocese is clearly in good hands and good heart, and my prayers and thanks are very much with you all.

“In the midst of all that is happening in the world today let us not lose sight of God’s gracious, loving care for us all.”

Bishop Peter, 65, has been the Bishop of Bath and Wells for seven years (since 2014).

For four years, he was the Church of England's lead bishop for safeguarding and represented the Church of England at the three hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby paid tribute to Bishop Peter, saying “his commitment to changing the culture and shining a light in dark places was an inspiration to us all”.

Archbishop Justin added: “I would like to thank Peter for more than 40 years of dedicated ministry in the Church. Anyone who has worked with him or spent time with him will know the deep authenticity of his personal faith and pastoral concern.

"I have got to know Peter well during his nearly four years as lead safeguarding bishop, where his commitment to changing the culture and shining a light in dark places was an inspiration to us all.

“He led the Church’s response to IICSA , sitting through all three hearings. I know the enormous toll this took on him, but he always had the welfare of survivors at heart.

"I know the past year has been very difficult with his diagnosis and treatment for cancer.

"As with many others, I will continue to pray for Peter and Jane as they embark on retirement, that they will feel God’s great strength and love.”

A farewell service is planned for Pentecost on Saturday, May 22. The full details will be provided one government guidelines are clear.

The Bishop of Taunton, Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, will continue to lead the diocese for the moment.

“Bishop Peter has been a wonderful, warm and wise friend and colleague in the past five and a half years of ministry we have shared together in Bath and Wells," she said.

"I shall miss him terribly. Clearly it is with sadness that we hear the news that he will not be returning to minister as Bishop amongst us.

"However, his recovery and health are of greater importance at this time and our prayers continue for Peter, Jane and the whole family.

"May they know God’s hope, grace and joy as they step into the future.”