Thinking Anglicans

Affirming Catholicism and SCP on Bishop of Burnley consecration

Joint Statement by Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests on the consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley

Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests are disappointed at the Archbishop of York’s decision not to lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley, and the decision that only three bishops – none of whom ordains women – will lay on hands.

Whilst recognising that this is the Archbishop’s prerogative, the decision is particularly difficult to understand given that the Bishop of Burnley is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Blackburn and as such will share in responsibility for female clergy in the Diocese and for parishes which welcome the sacramental ministry of women. We are especially exercised that the Bishop of Burnley’s own Diocesan Bishop will apparently not be laying on hands.

Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise and commend the Church of England’s affirmation that those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests should be enabled to flourish within its life and structures. However, we are concerned that the Archbishop of York’s decision does not exemplify the commitment “to maintain the highest possible degree of communion possible” which is articulated in the Five Guiding Principles agreed by General Synod and to which Forward in Faith has explicitly assented. This commitment must be lived out in the light of the first two principles:

  • 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 the 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.

The House of Bishops has emphasised that the Five Guiding Principles “need to be read one with the other and held in tension, rather than being applied selectively.” Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise that the living out of the principles will be complicated. However, Ministry Division has required that from November 2014, all candidates for ordination should explicitly assent to the Five Guiding Principles. It seems reasonable that such explicit assent should also be demonstrated by all those to be consecrated bishop.

Affirming Catholicism and SCP would therefore welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Burnley and from the Bishop of Blackburn confirming their commitment to the first two of the Five Guiding Principles agreed by the Church of England, and specifically affirming the Bishop of Burnley’s responsibilities towards the female clergy of the Diocese of Blackburn and to the parishes under his care who welcome the ordination of women. We would similarly welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Chester confirming the Bishop of Stockport’s assent to the Five Guiding Principles. Indeed, we believe that a case could be made that all licensed clergy in the Church of England should be expected so to assent.

1 February 2015

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Simon SarmientoFather DavidDBDFather Ron SmithLaura Sykes Recent comment authors
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DBD
Guest

I am given to understand that episcopal ordinands are expected to agree to the Principles just as presbyteral ordinands are.

Laura Sykes
Guest

Would it not be best to defer the consecration of Fr North until the exact liturgy to be used can be worked out between Fr North,the Anglo-Catholics he represents and the Archbishop of York?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Laura, I don’t understand you. Surely that is exactly what the Archbishop of York has already done?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What this statement affirms – loudly and clearly – is that not by any means all Anglo-Catholics are against the ordination of women as priests and bishops in the Church. For both Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests in the Church of England to show this measure of support for the proper recognition of women as equally capable of receiving the gift of Holy Orders, bears witness to this important fact, that, as St. Paul says: “In Christ, there is neither male nor female”. Either this is a fact, with consequences for the ministry of women in the… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I cannot possibly conceive that swearing allegiance to the recently produced Five Principles will be included among the oaths that bishops have to swear obedience to at their consecrations. They may well be important when it comes to typical Anglican fudge but they have not yet reached the exalted status of sacred texts.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Father Ron, the episcopal orders conferred later today upon Fr. Philip North will no more be recognised by Rome than any other orders conferred upon any other Anglican Bishop, Priest or Deacon, yours and mine included. But they do say that actions speak louder than words or even Papal Bulls.
For example Pope Paul VI giving the papal ring to Archbishop Ramsey or, more recently, Pope Francis requesting and receiving a blessing from Archbishop Welby. Yet even more recently, the absence of any official delegation from the Roman Catholic Church at Bishop Libby’s consecration.

DBD
Guest

Quite right, David; no one will be assenting to the Principles in their ordinations, but rather ordinands will not be reaching that stage unless they have.

Father David
Guest
Father David

DBD, Does that mean that if every future Anglican ordinand has to swear obedience to the Five Principles, they have now reached the Status of Dogma i.e. That which must be assented to in order to be ordained?
Strikes me as being rather like Carey’s Lambeth fireside chats with future prospective bishops gaining their assent to that ridiculous document “Issues in Human Sexuality”. Didn’t Rowan refuse to give his assent and so missed out on becoming Bishop of Southwark?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Others may correct me if I am wrong, but in the past there were two things which future bishops had to agree to, in the manner that Fr David describes for IHS. The other one was, IIRC, to comply with the now repealed Act of Synod as if it was in fact the law of the land (which it was not).