Updated yet again on Wednesday – scroll down for new items
See our original report here.
The Archbishop of York wrote an opinion article for the Yorkshire Post this morning: John Sentamu: Your have my word – female clergy will not be undermined by new Bishop of Sheffield.
It also has this article by Sue Hammersley Sheffield Speaking Out—What Do We Want?
…What do we want? We want to break the silence of misunderstandings.
We want to understand the process which led to Bishop Philip’s nomination, why the Vacancy in See Committee left the diocese wide open to receiving someone who would not ordain women. This was never checked out within the parishes. Was it deliberate or was it because we all assumed that there was a direction of travel within this diocese? We weren’t expecting this.
We want to understand the relationship between Bishop Philip and the many societies he represents, The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and Forward in Faith being the most relevant. How free is Bishop Philip to make up his own mind about women priests? How appropriate is it for a diocesan bishop, not a suffragan bishop, to be aligned with a group which denies the priestly orders of women?
We want a thorough review of the theology, efficacy and use of the five guiding principles which are currently being used to keep us silent.
We want to find a voice of dissent which is also a voice of love and compassion, of truth and justice and equality. We want to ask, what would Jesus do?
Thomas Matthew Sharp has written: Man from a Woman Bishop’s Rib: a Man’s Perspective on Mutual Flourishing? which discusses the general issue, apart from the Sheffield specific instance.
There is another roundup of coverage from SAME over here.
And Archbishop Cranmer (Adrian Hilton) has this: If Philip North can’t be Bishop of Sheffield, the Church of England ceases to be catholic.
This article by Alice Whalley is well worth reading: The Bishop of Sheffield and Mutual Flourishing: a Guest Blog
The Yorkshire Post has published a response by Martyn Percy to the Archbishop of York’s article: Martyn Percy: Bishop’s views mean he should decline job.
The article as published is significantly shorter than the original as written. You can read the latter version over here:Finding the Wisdom of Solomon.
The Church of England has published 5 Guiding Principles On Women And The Episcopate – A User Guide. Here’s the first part of it:
Since the ordination of women began in 1994, there have been a number of diocesan bishops who have not ordained women. Currently in the Church of England the Bishop of Chichester does not ordain women as priests, and Bishop Richard Chartres, who has just retired after twenty years’ service as Bishop of London, also did not ordain women as priests. Both those bishops have supported the vocation and ministry of women within their dioceses.
It has been established for over two decades, both within the Church of England and within the Anglican Communion that both positions, those who support the ordination and consecration of women, and those who in conscience cannot support that, are fully Anglican.
For many years the Church of England wrestled with how to accommodate this commitment to supporting both positions while also permitting the consecration of women as bishops. The Church’s first formal attempt to do this failed when the General Synod rejected the relevant legislation in November 2012.
At the second time of asking, the Church of England did pass legislation to permit the consecration of women as bishops in July 2014, after a process of reflection and dialogue to learn the lessons of its previous failure. The package that was agreed, and passed into law, in 2014, was founded on a declaration by the House of Bishops, approved by the General Synod. The declaration comprised five guiding principles, and above all a commitment to “mutual flourishing” for all traditions within the Church. That declaration forms a key part of the package which permitted the 2014 legislation, and enabled the consecration of the first women bishops (now ten, by February 2017) within the Church of England.
The declaration specifically provides that:
- A diocesan bishop may be either a bishop who does, or who does not, ordain women;
- A diocese may express a view, prior to a diocesan see being filled, as to whether the diocesan bishop should be someone who does or does not ordain women;
- In every case where the diocesan bishop does not ordain women, there should be at least one bishop in the diocese who does ordain women;
- Senior leadership roles within dioceses should continue to be filled by people from across the range of traditions.
Those provisions are part of the “mutual flourishing” that is central to the declaration and to the package. The declaration also recognises that “there will need to be sensitivity to the feelings of vulnerability that some will have that their position within the Church of England will gradually be eroded and that others will have because not everyone will receive their ministry.” It appreciates that the practical working out of these arrangements may not be easy, for the Church as a whole or for individuals.
The nomination of Bishop Philip North was made by the Crown Nominations Commission, a group comprising six representatives from the diocese itself, six from the national Church, and the two Archbishops. The process of selecting Bishop Philip was made entirely in line with the provisions of the House of Bishops declaration. His nomination for the see of Sheffield is therefore also in line with the provisions that made it possible for women to be consecrated as bishops.
The argument against Bishop Philip’s nomination is based on a rejection of the five guiding principles in the House of Bishops’ declaration. Some critics of the nomination have made clear that they do not believe in the five guiding principles. Instead, they would like to reopen the settlement made by the Church of England in July 2014 which enabled both supporters of women’s consecration, and those who opposed it, to flourish alongside each other within the Church…
The Bishop of Wakefield has issued this statement on behalf of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda:
The See of Sheffield
The Bishop of Wakefield has issued the following statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The Society.
We are confident that the ministry of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield will make a very significant contribution to the life and mission of the Church. We have been delighted by the welcome that his nomination has received from representatives of a wide range of traditions in the Diocese of Sheffield and in the Church of England more widely. The support expressed by many female clergy who have experience of his ministry and gifts is especially encouraging. Their response gives grounds for hope that the Five Guiding Principles and the spirit of mutual flourishing that they embody have begun to permeate through the Church of England.
We have also noted critical comments. Some of them have referred to the cards that are issued to Priests of The Society. The card merely states, ‘Fr John Smith is a Priest of The Society’, and that it is only valid while the priest holds a benefice, licence or permission to officiate in the Church of England. The cards are no different from the membership cards that are issued by many organizations. They are not available to priests who have not chosen to become Priests of The Society. We understand that the way in which the cards have been described has created a different impression, and wish to express our regret at the offence that this has caused.
In our 2015 statement ‘A Catholic Life in the Church of England’ we said: ‘We reject any so-called “theology of taint” whereby a bishop who ordains women to the episcopate or the priesthood thereby invalidates his own orders and renders invalid the orders of those whom he subsequently ordains.’ We made it clear that priests ordained by such bishops are welcomed as Priests of The Society. We are disappointed that our beliefs continue to be misrepresented.
One of the many aspects of Bishop Philip’s ministry which is exemplary is the fact that he values, and works happily with, both female and male clergy of different traditions. As bishops of The Society, we expect its clergy and people to respect all whom the Church of England has ordained and appointed to office, and to work with them in a spirit of mutual flourishing. The Five Guiding Principles, to which we are wholeheartedly committed, require this not only of the rest of the Church of England but also of us.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the House of Bishops’ Declaration as ‘a promise to love one another’. We call on all involved in the discussions that have arisen to recommit themselves to that promise, as we do ourselves.
Tomorrow sees the beginning of Lent – a season of prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal. We hope that throughout this season people will continue to pray for Bishop Philip and the people of the Diocese of Sheffield.
The Right Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
There is a further news article in the Sheffield Telegraph New Sheffield bishop ‘getting on with his job’ amid objections.
And there is a further blog article, by Ian Paul titled Agreeing to disagree in Sheffield…?.