Thinking Anglicans

Consecration of the Bishop of Burnley

Updated third time Thursday morning

Yesterday, Christian Today published the following article by Ruth Gledhill: Consecration of traditionalist bishop set to highlight Church of England divisions

As the consecration of the first female bishop approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest…

And Ruth noted that:

…no-one from the Archbishop’s office, the diocesan office, the cathedral or the women’s ordination group WATCH would comment to Christian Today

Twenty-four hours later, there has still been no comment from any of these sources. Nor from Forward in Faith or The Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.

There have been two blog articles though:

Archdruid Eileen has published At the Multiple Episcopal Consecration

Jonathan Clatworthy has published A woman’s touch and spiritual danger

I will add links to any further official or other statements about this that I discover.

Updates

WATCH has now issued a statement:

Press Release Wednesday 21st Jan 2015
WATCH Statement on Consecrations

Next Monday the Church of England and the nation will rejoice at the consecration of Rev Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England. That will be a great day, and nothing should detract from that moment of affirmation for all women in all walks of life.

We have known about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley for some time, but have not commented publicly out of courtesy to the individuals involved. Our focus has been on the earlier consecration as the fulfillment of a long and deeply held desire by so many, and as a source of good news from the Church.

We are dismayed that it seems that the Archbishop of York will not lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley. We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the eucharist.

We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops at the moment of consecration. The Bishop of Burnley is a suffragan bishop, and not a PEV: he is a minister for the whole Church of England in the Diocese of Blackburn and the people of that diocese are looking forward to working with him across the traditions.

We will issue a statement on the wider ramifications of this in due course.

A reader of Thinking Anglicans who had written to the Archbishop of York has received a reply from his office, which is copied in full below the fold.

Two more blog articles:

Benny Hazlehurst Apostolic Regression

Kelvin Holdsworth One step forward, two giant leaps back – the English Episcopate

Another two:

Janet Henderson Woman’s Touch Not Welcome

Peter Carrell Bishops’ magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them!

According to the CofE Daily Media Digest, The Times [paywall] reports inter alia that:

…the church has yet to confirm whether Dr Sentamu and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, will join the service but adds that Dr Sentamu’s most senior aide said last night that Mr North had not insisted on the arrangement himself.

Dear

Thank you for writing about the Consecration of the new Bishop of Burnley. Arrangements have been made carefully according to the plans put before General Synod in July last year.

Paper GS Misc 1079, Women in the Episcopate, A Note from the Archbishops in paragraphs 7-8 it said:

7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services would be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.

8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.

9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration (GS Misc 1076) and to build the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.’

As you will know the five guiding principles referred to above are:

  • ‘Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;
  • Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;
  • Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and
  • Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.’

(Extract from GS 1924 – Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate)

I must stress, as in 7 above, that by Royal Mandate the decision as to who lays on hands at the Consecration of a bishop in the Province is for the Archbishop alone to determine. It is the Archbishop who must, in discussion with the candidate, decide how best to proceed in each case. All those bishops present and gathered round the candidate, laying on hands or not, will be participating in the consecration, through their presence and their prayers. It is my prayer that what has been arranged will be a genuine expression both of the five principles, and of the gracious generosity upon which they depend.

When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop on the basis of terms stated in para. 5 (above), to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.

Thank you for your concern, and for your prayers for all involved in preparing both for the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Burnley. May God the Holy Trinity renew his Church in the power of the Holy Spirit, uniting us in Jesus Christ and filling us with the Father’s love.

With every blessing.
+Sentamu Ebor:

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Jeremy
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Jeremy

From the Gledhill article:

“Archbishops are free to determine what happens at consecrations and who does and does not lay on hands.”

Obviously the minders need to be be minded again.

If Parliament doesn’t want an informal schism in the established church, then Parliament should legislate immediately.

Perhaps the law should provide that all CofE bishops in good standing may lay on hands.

That should put a swift end to this “taint” nonsense at ordinations.

Nicholas Henderson
Guest
Nicholas Henderson

This rests ultimately on the idea of ‘apostolic succession’ a concept which is severely flawed and inevitably divisive separating factions and denominations. This is a good example creating a church within a church, which of course is the complete antithesis of what is intended.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Someone, I believe it was “Tristan” who was telling me that I was dishonestly saying that CoE was upholding the heresy of taint. “Heresy” is VERY BAD when it is about including women and LGBT people. But is VERY GOOD when it excludes women and LGBT people. I think I’m starting to understand what this is REALLY about. And it relates to LGBT exclusion as well, because it is ultimately about who is created in the Image of God, and who are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class citizens of God’s Creation. And who gets to make up the rules about… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Ok, so now we’ve gone from the Holy Spirit — the Third Person of the Trinity, part of God (if I may oversimplify trinitarian doctrine), a God who is allegedly omnipotent — being stopped cold by a human being who happens to have no Y chromosome, to this same Holy Spirit being stopped cold by anyone who “has laid hands on” a human being who happens to have no Y chromosome. Here, across the Pond, when I was in elementary school (I don’t know the equivalent in England, school for children ages 6 – 12), the boys had a concept… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Why on earth are the bishops going along with this? Why are they prepared to simply roll over and do what the Archbishops ‘direct’? It’s offensive and was never something that was discussed by General Synod when we discussed the draft legislation. I also suggest that the arrangements are in direct contradiction to at least three of the five guiding principles that we did agree when we met in Synod.

Alastair Newman
Guest
Alastair Newman

So neither Archbishop then?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Political, predictable, lamentable.

Canon Guy Elsmore Gen Sec of Modern Church
Guest
Canon Guy Elsmore Gen Sec of Modern Church

If correct, the report by Ruth Gledhill is of great concern. The decision to show restraint, made by the bishops, including the Diocesan and the Archbishop, who will stand by as only those bishops acceptable to the candidate lay on hands, will not have been made lightly. The deep pain of this situation will be felt by them and by the candidate himself. It may be that a candidate for the episcopacy cannot, in conscience, accept the ministry of a woman. It may be that a candidate cannot, in conscience, ordain or consecrate a woman. All this has been anticipated… Read more »

paul richardson
Guest
paul richardson

Sadly in an attempt to ensure a “pure” Episcopal succession, rather than an ordination of a bishop into the historic episcopacy there will be a consecration into a narrow schismatic sect. How can anyone in the diocese of Blackburn, or the Church of England, accept the ministry of a bishop so out of communion with his Provincial or Diocesan that their hands are not acceptable at his consecration?

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

In York consecrations are great family affairs. All the Northern Bishops come and stand round the Archbishop and stretch out their hands or hold the person in front of them

In the case of Burnley all the Bishops are to stand there in an arc and keep their hands firmly buy their side,It is absolute nonsense – but not really funny! It has never happened before . John Goddard and Nicholas Reade were both consecrated by all the Northern Bishops led by the AB who actually put his hands on their head.

Mark Mesley
Guest
Mark Mesley

Given that Fr Philip North was appointed Bishop of Burnley before Rev Libby Lane was appointed to the suffragan See of Stockport, his consecration should have taken place first … then there would have been no problem with the Archbishop of York being the chief consecrator. It is also normal practice for a parish priest to give his or her parish three months notice when they move to another post within the Church. Why was Libby’s consecration arranged within six weeks of her appointment? I’m sure that she could have waited for another couple of weeks! The timing is also… Read more »

Murdoch
Guest
Murdoch

Doesn’t the X chromosome include the Y chromosome? The Y is just an X with one leg missing. Funny that having a crippled chromosome is a requirement, while having two complete ones is a disqualification.

Malcolm
Guest
Malcolm

What happens if, at the ordaining moment, the Holy Spirit calls one of the bishops who have ordained women to step forward and lay his hands on Fr North with the others? Is ordination un sacramental and thus legally invalid or tainted?

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

From Ruth Gledhill’s article:
The source said: “We understand that there are only about three bishops who will actually be able to lay hands on Philip North because everyone else will have laid hands on Libby Lane the week before.

Fr. North should pray that none of them come down with the flu or be unavailable at the last minute, or it will indeed be a very interesting (non?)consecration.

It is one thing for Bishop Lane to graciously refrain from the laying on of hands, a wholesale exclusion of anyone who has participated in the ordination of a woman is something else.

Father David
Guest
Father David

I am now wondering who will be the Chief Consecrator of the Conservative Evangelical, so far unnamed, Bishop of Maidstone?

JCF
Guest
JCF

I know I’m being the Ugly American here, but I can’t help but wish (imagine) our ++KJS showing up at Fr North’s consecration, hands a-ready for co-consecrating, just to set a fox among the proverbial (?) chickens…

Lord, Re-form Your Church!

(The Ven.) Thomas Mansella
Guest
(The Ven.) Thomas Mansella

The action contradicts all that has been agreed so far. First, if a bishop who happens to be a woman is to be a lawfully elected and consecrated bishop in the CoE, and should be respected, and if it is clear that the CoE has settled the issue on the ordination of women, how is it possible that those bishops who ordained women are not “kosher” enough to lay hands on a bishop-elect who happens to be a man and does not believe in the ordination of women? Second, and on more precise theological grounds, the ordination of a woman… Read more »

Rev David
Guest
Rev David

I dont agree with Rev North, but I do believe in Christian “unity in diversity” – which is served by agreeing to disagree on issues like this… or do we really just want a “pure” liberal church?!

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

But of course “taint” theology is just a straw man imputed to “traditionalists” by dishonest “liberals”!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“In the case of Burnley all the Bishops are to stand there in an arc and keep their hands firmly by their side.”

Seems likely. And what a picture it will make!

The Church of England’s genius at shooting itself in the foot is boundless.

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

It all makes sense now. I could never work out why the risen Jesus tells Mary not to touch him, but as he hadn’t got to any of the other disciples by then, it would have spannered the entire apostolic succession.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

This is arrant nonsense and should have been grounds for not making the appointment. If, as the above post states, +Reade and +Goddard were ordained by all bishops, then I see no reason for any difference here, save for the fact that now they will have ordained a woman as bishop. I trust that this will be the last appointment of a non-ordainer to a suffragan see (for this purpose I regard Maidstone as deemed not to be a true suffragan see). That way, only the PEVs will be bishops to either the TradCaths or ConEvos and this theology of… Read more »

Fr Rob Hall
Guest
Fr Rob Hall

re Mark Mesley: “…and we also showed the Scandinavian Lutherans, who recognise our orders and with whom we are in full communion, that we might learn something precious from them.” re Rev David: In what sense is desiring a Catholic church in which a bishop of a province is consecrated by the Archbishop and the other bishops of that province – who may agree to disagree – ‘seeking a “pure” liberal church? Isn’t it simply normal practice? I worry that the old criticism of the Tractarians – that they fervently believed in episcopal governance of the Church until they disagreed… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

Just a note from your lurking professor of genetics: the Y chromosome is NOT simply a broken derivative of the X. It is a separate chromosome altogether with distinct genetic information (and remarkably few genes). It is also dispensable for life: XO individuals (one X and no Y) are viable, and female although they have several abnormalities.

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Only the Church of England could celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by the creation of a new church”
Canon Guy, surely the “new church” will be created on January 26th when something happens in York Minster which has never happened before? What will happen in York Minster a week later on February 2nd will be the continuation of a long Biblical and Apostolic tradition.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rev David, being consecrated by bishops from a pure male line of priests and bishops is now seen as ‘liberal’ and not conducive to a diverse church in unity?
Would it not rather be the perfect symbol of it?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I am still mulling over the idea that having all male bishops participate in a consecration is liberal. Surely, the real progression would be: Liberal: I believe that it is ontologically impossible to ordain and consecrate a woman. Therefore, what a woman does has no sacramental effect, neither positively or negatively. In the spirit of showing unity in diversity, I will therefore invite Libby Lane to participate in the laying on of hands. Run of the mill normal and in accordance with strictly interpreted sacramental theology: All male bishops ordained and consecrated from a male line of priests and bishops… Read more »

Fr William
Guest

I wonder what the Bishop designate of Stockport thinks of this. Perhaps both consecrations should be postponed.

Sister Mary
Guest
Sister Mary

Do the Bishops who will attend the episcopal consecration of Rev P North not understand that they personally and individually are being repudiated by him? Decades ago, when married deacons were brought back to the RC Church, there arose an incident in a Brighton parish where it was customary for the parish clergy to go to the local convent for their Christmas dinner. The year the priests and deacon were invited , but the deacon’s wife was not included in the invitation the three priests all declined the invitation. When the sisters asked why, they were told that if one… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Seems to me that Fr North will do himself and those who think like him, immeasurable damage by proceeding in this manner. The theology of ‘taint’ is alive and being practised by those who have been assured an honourable place within our Church. And isn’t choosing ones own consecrators a novel departure from the principles of catholicity? Is there any precedent anywhere?

John
Guest
John

One understands – thanks to a helpful posting a few weeks back – that it’s not about taint but about impaired communion. There must be (there must be? I so hope so) ‘traditionalists’ who would accept the ministrations of the Archbishop of York on such occasions (and analogous ones, like receiving Communion from him). Such people should be supported. The rest – North and his defenders -should go. Personally, I’m completely fed up defending them – they’re not worth it. They have no moral sense.

Fr William
Guest

Steady on with your attacks on Philip North, please. It’s been stated officially on several occasions that the decisions are the responsibility of the Provincial, and that PN has insisted on none of these proposals. If I were PN I might well be sad (to put it mildly) that Ebor had landed me in this position.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

More of the article in The Times is visible here
https://twitter.com/politicsastar/status/558177079356051457/photo/1

Nigel LLoyd
Guest
Nigel LLoyd

I wonder whether we read what we have signed. It is my understanding of Porvoo that we accepted the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia on the basis that Apostolic Succession was vested in the company of the baptized and symbolized in the laying on of hands by the bishops. It seems to me that that is good theology. If we believe that, then it was not in the Archbishop’s gift to show ‘gracious restraint’, in not laying on his hands at Philip North’s ordination as a bishop, without reflecting on just what such restrain would symbolize. It is important that both… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I would suggest that it is time for some correspondents to exercise “gracious restraint” in what they write about Fr. Philip North. He has proved himself to be one of the finest priests of his generation within the Church of England and well deserves to be elevated to the episcopacy. He has already had to endure the Whitby debacle and now as he prepares for his sacred consecration as Bishop of Burnley he is having yet another heap of coals poured upon his head.This falls little short of persecution. In departing from Scripture and Tradition the General Synod of the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John, I had a long conversation about impaired communion on my Facebook yesterday and one contributor linked to a Tablet article from 1993 about impaired communion. And there is nothing in there that suggest that Communion can be impaired by the actions of otherwise validly ordained and consecrated priests and bishops. It was interesting to read that! Strangely, the link doesn’t work this morning, nor do any of the others that Google brings up for old Tablet articles. Very odd. So far, searching the Vatican archives, all I can come up with is an article from 2004 (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/angl-comm-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20040608_iarccum-ecclesiology_en.html) with a… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I have an idea that might just save the Church of England from loss of face on this important issue. When I was confirmed, in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry in the 1940s, the Bishop wore an immaculate pair of white gloves. One wonders whether, if Bishops still wore white gloves, they could have the same bishop performing episcopal rites but with a different set of gloves for each candidate. (Perhaps the gloves could be of different colours to suit the candidate’s gender). In this way, ‘sacramental assurance’ could be ensured by the gloves – rather than whether the bishop was… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr William,
are you suggesting that Fr North did not ask for this but that the initiative came from the Archbishop of York?

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“It’s been stated officially on several occasions that the decisions are the responsibility of the Provincial,” Fr. William

Funny how the Archbishop of York has overarching responsibility in some controversial situations, but not in others.

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

Whilst I find some things very difficult at the moment, not least the dire warnings of the archbishops about our future and indeed the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport, I would like to say a couple of things. Firstly I will never tire of defending the right of fellow Anglicans to disagree with me, even when their outlook or belief is so contrary to my own. It is the Church we have and the path we have gone down, to live in tension on many issues. Secondly, whilst understanding the need to comment and let our feelings be known,… Read more »

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

Random thought: What if one of the ‘tainted’ bishops forgets himself and reaches out and touches Fr North’s head? Will that make his consecration invalid? Presumably Fr North and his ilk were all born ‘of a woman?’ How tainted is that? I thought I had witnessed every way in which the C of E has contrived to demean, insult and humiliate women in ministry and women in general, but this takes the biscuit. (For once) I agree with John. How will the women priests and women of Burnley view a bishop so precious of his calling that he cannot bear… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“In departing from Scripture and Tradition the General Synod of the Church of England has created one Hell of a mess!” – Fr. David – Couldn’t agree with you more, Father. However, the Church sometimes has to show a willingness to be changed – like the Infant Church had to change about the need for circumcision of male Christians. The problem here would seem to be that someone who does not agree with Church of England polity on women in ministry has agreed to be made a bishop in the same Church where women will be bishops. This anomaly –… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Fr David – you should note that what is at issue here is not whether Philip North should be consecrated a bishop but how. Some of us might not like the fact that we will continue to ordain those who think women should not be ordained, but we accepted this concession as part of the legislative package. We did not accept arrangements like these and they would not have got through GS if we’d been presented with them. In the working party such ideas were roundly rejected. This sorry episode shows why we need more scrutiny by eg GS not… Read more »

SImon R
Guest
SImon R

There is a great danger of Philip North becoming the scapegoat for a decision he, apparently, has neither taken nor sought. I am astounded that the Archbishop, knowing how much bile was off-loaded on to Philip North at the time he was nominated to the See of Whitby, has allowed this situation to develop through whispers and innuendo. It smacks of a wholesale lack of transparency and pastoral care at the top. If the arrangements for Philip North’s consecration are in accordance with the Five Principles, why not say so from the outset – and with confident, public clarity? Any… Read more »

Fr William
Guest

Ebor makes quite clear who is responsible for the decisions: he is. Read his words above. As I was walking to and from the dentist this morning I could sense the disquiet that this was causing amongst the worthy citizens of Burton. Every passer by stopped to quiz me on the issue (I was in clericals as is my wont). When will we realise that the CoE is merely a limb on the body of Anglicanism, itself not much more than a digit on the body of Christ. As for its place in England, perhaps a pimple. Our bishop wrote… Read more »

Nick Nawrockyi
Guest
Nick Nawrockyi

Fr David – in what sense does one “deserve” to become a bishop?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

New Directions editorial February 2014 said: http://trushare.com/0226%20February%202014/18%20editorial.htm The issue for us has never been about so-called ‘taint’ but rather with a theology and communion. For example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women. He also created an impairment of communion with some of his priests and his people. If the bishop changes his mind and decides not to ordain women and feels that it is not right for the Church then he returns to being in communion with those who cannot… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

The Tablet link works again. http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/16th-january-1993/26/impaired-communion In this article with the title “Impaired Communion” FiF discuss the proposals for women priests and declare that: “In our view there will need to be an assured succession of bishops who do not ordain women to the priesthood or recognise them as priests; liberty for clergy and parishes to associate themselves for all sacramental and pastoral purposes with those bishops; and places of theological education and training for the priesthood which respect the position of those whom such bishops recommend.” It’s all about sacramental assurance only. The impairment does not extend to sacramentally… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The decision on who participates in the consecration lies entirely with the Archbishop. This is, as I understand it, Sentamu’s own initiative. He wrote to all the Bishops outlining the way in which he intended to proceed. For those of us who have absolutely no theology of tactile succession, believing it to be a superstitious and fond piece of catholic nonsense, this is all a sterile debate. Succession, in scripture, is about adherence to the apostolic teaching (cf 2 Tim 1 & 3)., and this is picked up in the liturgy for ordination. Laying on hands is central to ordinations,… Read more »

Vanessa Baron
Guest
Vanessa Baron

Thank you for that clarification Pete. I seem to remember that at +Martin Warner’s consecration a few years back there was a positive scrum of bishops laying on hands,of all persuasions. So I presume that the instructions in this case were, in part, to protect +Libby Lane from being the only bishop not laying on hands ( if she is going to be there, I have no inside knowledge).