Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New Bishop of Sheffield announced

The Rt Revd Philip North, currently suffragan Bishop of Burnley, is to be the next Bishop of Sheffield. The announcement from Downing Street reads:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Philip John North, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Burnley, in the diocese of Blackburn, for election as Bishop of Sheffield in succession to the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, on his translation to the See of Oxford on 6th July 2016.

The Right Reverend Philip North (aged 50), was educated at the University of York and trained for the ministry at Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his curacy at Sunderland Saint Mary and Saint Peter, in the Diocese of Durham from 1992 to 1996. Since 1997 he has been a member of the Company of Mission Priests.

From 1996 to 2002 he was Vicar of Hartlepool Holy Trinity in Durham Diocese and also served as Area Dean of Hartlepool from 2000 until 2002. From 2002 to 2008 he was Priest Administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and from 2004 to 2007 he was also Priest-in-Charge of Hempton in the diocese of Norwich. From 2008 to 2015 he was Team Rector of the Parish of Old Saint Pancras in the Diocese of London. Since 2015 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Burnley.

His interests include current affairs, cycling and walking.

The diocese of Sheffield carries further details here.

Comment and welcome from the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda is here.

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Categorised as: Church of England

Isn't this just the best news and has cheered me up no end.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 11:27am GMT

I welcome this outstanding appointment. As someone from a catholic parish in a deprived council estate in Sheffield, I applaud Bishop Philip's move to Sheffield equally because of his prophetic and outspoken concern for the marginalised and the overlooked in areas like mine as for the advancement of a traditional catholic into a diocesan see which proves the reality of mutual flourishing.There are those who will be uncomfortable with his appointment but some of these will worship in comfortable and affluent areas that have little comprehension of the reality of church life in some of the poorest and most unchurched parts of England.I know that Bishop Philip has always worked well with female clergy and gained their trust and respect and I am confident that all of us in our diocese will work together for this mutual flourishing and the advancement of the Gospel

Posted by: Michael on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 12:01pm GMT

I have already heard that Alternative Oversight might be sought.

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 2:07pm GMT

Rather puzzled by John Roch's comment.Sheffield currently has 20 parishes under the Bishop of Beverley.Presumably that arrangement will no longer be necessary.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 2:41pm GMT

Bishop Philip is hugely talented and has been superb in the Diocese of Blackburn. Most people in this Diocese disagree with his views over women priests, and whilst Bishop Philip has a line, he will push ministering together with ordained women as far as possible. He has encouraged a culture of mutual flourishing, respect and trust.

Posted by: Nancy Goodrich on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 2:49pm GMT

Oversight by a female bishop.

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 3:04pm GMT

Well done to the Archbishop of York for making this outstanding appointment of a highly talented and richly gifted clergyman. In a way it makes up for the Whitby debacle.
So Ebor has led the way in making a first rate appointment in the Northern Province will Cantuar follow Sentamu's lead and make a similar, inspired appointment of a Traditionalist bishop to a diocese in the Southern Province?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 3:49pm GMT

Presumably +Blackburn will appoint another Traditionalist to the See of Burnley. I think it will be Fr Luke Miller - Archdeacon of London, if he does.

Posted by: Graham Williams on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 4:44pm GMT

Whilst not gainsaying the many positive comments already made about Philip North, I am truly shocked by this appointment and my heart bleeds for the many women priests in the Diocese of Sheffield who will now have to serve under a Bishop who is at best unsure about the validity of their orders. He may 'push ministering together with women priests as far as possible', but he wasn't prepared to be consecrated at the same time as the first woman bishop, or by the same (now tainted?) archbishop who had consecrated her only a week earlier.
It had been thought (and not only by me, but by many on this site with experience of episcopal appointments) that, following our church reaching a settled mind on this issue in 2014, there would be no further appointments of non-ordainers to diocesan posts. But now this, so presumably all bets are off for London.
Someone mentioned Whitby - any chance of a backlash on this appointment by the good people of Sheffield?

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 6:08pm GMT

Hope fully this appointment will take the pressure of Chichester at the next vacancy here and we just might get a diocesan who ordains women.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 6:15pm GMT

John Roch, a request for alternative oversight by a female bishop would not be acceptable. The reason parishes are permitted to request AEO is because the Church of England accepts that female bishops are an innovation that the Universals Church does not share, and so recognises theological convictions to the contrary. One cannot seriously entertain a request the other way round. No one would contest the validity of Philip North's orders or seriously suggest they believe men cannot be bishops, as until 2015 only men had ever been bishops, and every female bishop has been consecrated by male bishops. The argument doesn't stack up therefore that one can request AEO on that basis. It would simply be a tit-for-tat response and a very immature one at that. Traditionalist parishes do not request AEO because they don't like a bishop's views, but because they believe the bishop is either invalidly ordained (if the bishop is a woman) or that the bishop is carrying out a schismatic act which damages the unity of the church (in the case of a male bishop who ordains women). Philip North cannot be accused either of being invalidly ordained or being schismatic.

Posted by: Jules on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 6:34pm GMT

Why would a female bishop need to provide episcopal care? Sounds rather sexist. I'd think it bunkum but could follow the logic of someone who would invite all clergy in the diocese to concelebrate at the Chrism Mass.

I would imagine that Sheffield will follow Chichester in having a Blessing of Oils with Renewal of Ministerial Commitment. Which should ensure all but the most ardent papists in the diocese are happy.

It is a tremendous appointment for which all flavours of the Church should thank God.

Posted by: Richard on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 8:31pm GMT

A sign of a mature Church, I would say. Not only talk, but action, on showing what mutual flourishing is all about. Women clergy have nothing to fear from Philip North. What a relief to know that there will be some colour and character in the House of Bishops at last after all those safe, monochrome appointments of recent years (and that includes most of the women, I'm afraid). Yah-booh Sucks to all the illiberal liberals in the Whitby episcopal area who made it impossible for Philip to serve as Bishop there.

Posted by: Michael Mulhern on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 8:35pm GMT

Presumably he will now agree to ordain women as priests for the good of his new diocese, or have I missed something?

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 11:30pm GMT

I was not seeking it. It was mentioned in comments made to me.

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 12:45am GMT

Richard Ashby - You could potentially have a Vacancy in Chichester by Summer 2018, if +Martin translates to London

Posted by: Graham Williams on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 1:40am GMT

This is terrific news for Sheffield, obviously (and for the Church of England generally). Fr Philip is a very gifted priest and bishop, and his elevation is very welcome.

But I can't help but note that Bishop Philip has been in the job at Burnley for only a little over two years. I realise this may seem like an age when you consider that the present Archbishop of Canterbury was at Durham for less than twelve months, but I worry about this trend. I tend to think it's unhelpful to shuttle bishops as quickly as possible from one diocese to another, and I dislike the view that suffragan bishoprics are a sort of nursery for training 'proper' bishops as soon as an appropriate diocese becomes available.

Posted by: rjb on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 4:02am GMT

Liberal liberal here. I disagree strongly with those who oppose equal ordination, but they've every right to their beliefs, and it shouldn't be held against them. As he's reported to treat women fairly, good luck to him.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 5:31am GMT

It would be enlightening to have a comment from Anthony Archer on this excellent appointment as I distinctly remember him confidently predicting on the TA blog that there would be no more Traditionalist bishops appointed to Diocesan Sees. Bishop North's appointment to the See of Sheffield has gone a long way in restoring my faith in the Church of England as a truly broad and tolerant Church.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 6:55am GMT

I wonder if Bishop North will institute women incumbents like the Bishop of London? What happens in Chichester?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 8:37am GMT

No worries here, Perry - he institutes (and supports) women incumbents in Blackburn diocese.

Posted by: John Darch on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:21am GMT

I have been fascinated by the comments about this appointment. I had not appreciated how many readers of TA seem to be traditionalist from an anglo-catholic perspective. I am deeply saddened by this appointment and am in full agreement with Malcolm Dixon. I am sure that +Philip is a very competent person with tremendous gifts, but that is not the point. The Church of England does ordain women to all three orders and to have a Diocesan Bishop who is a traditionalist is giving the wrong message to the ordained women in the Diocese of Sheffield, and elsewhere, as well as to the lay people in the Diocese and church at large. Will he ordain women or will he make alternative provision? What does his behaviour in 'push(ing) ministering together with women priests as far as possible' say to the ordained women in the Diocese of Sheffield and to all of us in the Church? Another nail in the coffin as far as young people are concerned who just don't understand what we are about. We are ALL made in the image of God, male, female. I have had little confidence in the Church of England for some time now and only stay because Jeffery John said to me that he needs me to stay. My prayers are, of course with +Philip, but mainly with all those women, ordained and lay in his new Diocese who are having to suffer yet again, the prejudice and marginalisation we had hoped were over.

Posted by: Anne on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:29am GMT

'As he's reported to treat women fairly, good luck to him.' Treating women fairly is it? Finding yourself, with half the clergy in the diocese, serving under a bishop who does not believe you should be ordained at all is 'fair' is it? Good luck to them too then ...? I know the quality of this man of God. I am committed to the guiding principles.I will pray for him and Sheffield. It is just the embarrrassing lack of imagination and sensitivity, here and elsewhere, towards those who have very good reason for feeling disappointed and let down that gets to me.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:34am GMT

Mr Archer's prophecy was:

"I don't think every appointment should be filled by Traditionalists but if individuals were appointed to a Suffragan/Diocesan See who happened to be a traditionalist on the basis that they were the best person for the job then it will be a much welcomed."
Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 8:03pm BST

I am surprised to be reading this. The mind of the church is now settled on women's ministry in all its forms. It is no longer incidental that a person happens to be a non-ordainer. Provision has been made for the very small minority who find the development unconscionable. There will be no further appointments of non-ordainers or headship bishops to a diocesan see. The reason is obvious. Theological conviction on this point is now a show stopper. By definition such a person cannot be the best candidate. I am not prepared to be so dogmatic about suffragan sees, but as suffragans are appointed by diocesans it seems highly unlikely. +Burnley is the last. +Fulham might remain the only exception but he functions more as a PEV for a rather large diocese. The College of Bishops (and most certainly the House of Bishops) cannot function on the basis that some of their members don't recognise the orders of others.

Posted by: Richard on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 10:04am GMT

Anthony Archer, I'm afraid you've definitely missed something. Philip North is a traditionalist, so he doesn't believe in women's ordination. That's why his appointment is controversial in some quarters. If he was to ordain women he would not be a traditionalist and therefore his appointment would not be at all newsworthy. I'm surprised that this has passed you by.

Posted by: Jules on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 10:44am GMT

I have never claimed the foresight of a Hebrew prophet but I have to say I am hugely surprised that a non-ordainer has been nominated for a diocesan see. It is a massively retrograde step and will certainly not serve the needs of the Diocese of Sheffield, excellent priest/bishop though Father North is. However not being a member of the CNC these days I can only comment from my armchair. There is much going on in the Church of England that is far more troubling than whether certain bishops will or will nor ordain women as deacons or priests and/or preside at their installations. No doubt those who are dancing in the aisles over this appointment will now be turning their attention to London.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 1:08pm GMT

Richard, the commitment to mutual flourishing means that traditionalists will still have to be considered for diocesan appointments and, shock horror, sometimes be appointed. This development means that there is now a traditionalist diocesan in both provinces and, though I don't see that increasing, it will probably mean this arrangement is for the long term. Again, it's important to point out that Bishop North and all those in the CofE who oppose the ordination of women do not hold to a way-out or bizarre doctrine unknown to the apostolic Church. It is the view of the universal church of east and west and was the view of the Church of England for 456 years - and remains so in about a quarter of it. Those in the CofE who support 'moving with the times' on this issue (and other issues) are a very small minority indeed within the wider Church of God. A little humility on that point may give some clarity as to why this appointment was made.

Posted by: Jules on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 2:48pm GMT

Doesn't this suggest that a traditionalist might also become an archbishop? Where would we be with a traditionalist Archbishop of Canterbury?

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 2:54pm GMT

Is Richard correct in saying half the clergy in the Diocese of Sheffield are female? If so I am very shocked.

Posted by: Adam on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 4:07pm GMT

I strongly support the ordination of women to all three orders of ordained ministry. But in bringing that (in my view wholly desirable) possibility to reality, the Church of England's governing bodies agreed to maintain an honourable place for those who disagreed with that decision. The logical outcome of that decision - again, a decision I support - is that there will be parishes, clergy, and bishops who disagree with the ordination and / or consecration of women.

Given that commitment to 'mutual flourishing' it cannot be right to bar those opposed from senior posts particuarly if - as seems to be the case with Bishop Philip, although I don't know him personally - they are (a) otherwise outstandingly suited to being a diocesan and (b) personally committed to working hard at the flourishing of male and female clergy.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 5:23pm GMT

Kate, it's probably for that reason we will neither have a woman nor a traditionalist male as ABC. If one isn't in communion with Canterbury how can one still purport to be an Anglican? So I think we'll continue to have compromise candidates when it comes to that.

Posted by: Jules on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 6:15pm GMT

No, Jules, it's you who are missing things. You missed a very clear piece of irony in Anthony Archer's first post and, on the main issue, you have missed the point completely. Like it or not, the C of E has firmly decided that women may be ordained as deacons, priests and bishops and that, when so ordained, they are in every way equal to men in the same positions. By appointing a non-ordainer as a diocesan, the powers that be have disregarded this decision and given a kick in the teeth to all the women priests in Sheffield diocese and an insult to all other women priests.
Generous provision has been made for those who will not accept the ministry of women, but it was never supposed to extend to this. Fr David gives the ABY the credit, and so do I. He made a complete Horlicks of the arrangements for Philip North's consecration two years ago tomorrow, abrogating his very clear responsibility to do the job himself, and his hands are all over this latest appointment. How long (til he retires) O Lord, how long?
But where were the other members of the CNC? Could they not see how wrong and unfair this is, as David Runcorn eloquently points out?

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 6:45pm GMT

No, half the clergy in the Diocese of Sheffield are not female. The figures for 2015 in the ministry statistics published last year give:
Full time stipendiary:
30 female, 98 male
Part time stipendiary:
2 female, 3 male
Self supporting:
16 female, 20 male
So for stipendiary full time that's 23% female in Sheffield, compared with 15% in Blackburn and 25% nationally.

Posted by: Mark Hart on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 7:08pm GMT

David, when equal consecration was being debated, traditionalists expressed fears that they'd be discriminated against, placed in a holding pen until they could be pensioned off, and ultimately driven from the church. They were assured it wouldn't happen, and they'd remain valued members.

So yes, of course this burdens many women. I'd rather the traditional position were as dead as the Curse of Ham. But it isn't, and in a broad church, won't be anytime soon. Tolerance is hard, but, if the breadth of the church is to remain, inescapable.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 7:17pm GMT

The retirement of the Evangelical Bishop of Bristol has garnered just a single solitary comment whereas the appointment of the Catholic Bishop of Sheffield has, to date, amassed no fewer than 32 comments. This only goes to shew what a live issue this still is within the Established Church. In his short ministry as Bishop of Burnley Philip North has shewn a deep commitment to mutual flourishing and for this I think we should all rejoice that such a valuable asset is soon to join the ranks of our Diocesan Bishops. What a healthy addition his appointment is in contrast to all the managerial types who have recently been elevated to the Bench.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 7:36pm GMT

As an ordained woman I want to say thank you to Malcolm and to David R. It is people like you who keep me in this damaged Church.

Fr David, if he was catholic and liberal I'd agree with you. But he isn't...

Philip North and his ilk deny who I am and what I'm called to do.

More than that, I'm obviously less than fully made in the image of God in his eyes, whether he admits it or not.

And it hurts.

I thank God I'm not in Sheffield - and I pray for my sisters who are.

Posted by: Cathy on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 8:53pm GMT

I desperately feel that some contributors on TA should consider getting a hobby - I honestly don't see why we should be dwelling on the appointment of excellent individual who doesn't ordain women; when the real task at hand as disciples and followers of Jesus Christ is spreading the good news, proclaim the faith a fresh in every generation and through our actions to bring people to know the living God.

The God, I and all of us believe in is a God of inclusivity and a gracious God - It is God who calls us all (despite our beliefs) and it's the church that confirms that appointment. Bishop Philip's appointment is a calling from God through the working of the Holy Spirit and this has been seen and confirmed by members of the church... If you're not happy about the appointment then take up with God; unless we're now saying that God does not call people to various ministries and roles

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:10pm GMT

Thank you Mark I stand corrected. Was confusing different sets of figures and muddled how to say it too. Rather than explain I will just shut up. Apologies.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:25pm GMT

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you Malcolm. Yes, the CofE decided to allow women bishops, but it was not as unequivocal as you suggest. The preservation of an indisputably Catholic and apostolic lineage of bishops safeguarded through the laying on of hands by the bishops of the Society of SS Wilfrid & Hilda mean that the CofE has rather hedged its bets. But more than that, the CofE does not live in a vacuum. We simply cannot act as though we are a church independent of the rest of Christianity. One Church, one Faith, one Lord and all that. We are a small part of a wider body, and the ordination of women has been an act of disunity with regard to that body. Of course, the problem is largely one of what one thinks ordination is- is it a gift of the Church or a gift of the Spirit? Catholics in the CofE think the latter, and therefore we don't believe conferring holy orders on women is effective in an ontological sense. If you believe it's something the Church can confer onto anyone it chooses without regard to Scripture or Tradition then I suppose one wouldn't be able to see the problem.

Posted by: Jules on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:39pm GMT

I'm simply dismayed and disappointed that in this day and age we now have a bishop that effectively doesn't recognise the legitimate role that women priests have in the CoE. To have a bishop that refuses to ordain women is a shocking inditement of the church, and sends a very clear message to the world that discrimination is live and well. How must women priests now feel to now have to work for a boss that doesn't accept their validity? and where would the church be with fewer and fewer men coming for ordination? It's about time some people faced up to the realities...
Father David, No, this isn't just the best news - very far from it.

Posted by: David Castle on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 9:54pm GMT

Quite a lot of comments in favour from people who style themselves Father X. I think the only woman who has posted in support is from the diocese he is leaving...

I gave up on ordination ages ago: it is still too complicated for an LGBTI woman in the Church of England. How could I explain to my partner how much +she+ would be required to give up? But speaking as a woman nonetheless, my concern about this appointment is that it comes on the heels of the regressive report from the House of Bishops on same sex marriage. The CofE would rather a bishop who doesn't believe in ordained women than one who supports same sex marriage.

I do think that means there is no glass ceiling for traditionalists and that all women in the Church of England need to recognise that Bishop Philip or another traditionalist could become Archbishop of York or, worse, Canterbury. Where does that leave women who thought these things were settled?

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 1 February 2017 at 10:00pm GMT

"Bishop Philip's appointment is a calling from God through the working of the Holy Spirit and this has been seen and confirmed by members of the church... If you're not happy about the appointment then take up with God; unless we're now saying that God does not call people to various ministries and roles"

Presumably God also calls paedophile priests too? Why does He do that? Are victims then to blame God? Or maybe, is it that people making such decisions aren't all that good at listening to God? Is it that many great candidates - perhaps the candidate God would really have wanted - are driven away because they are female or LGBT? We pray that God's will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven precisely because His will isn't always done on Earth. To believe that clerical appointments are an exception to that is, I suggest, unduly rose-tinted and a view not supported by the lessons of history.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 10:32am GMT

There is another way of looking at this appointment, quite apart from the merits of the Bishop-elect and the needs of the particular diocese: Bishop North was the first bishop consecrated after the ordination of women as bishops in the Church of England. That means that lack of experience may no longer be used as an excuse implicitly or explicitly for not appointing women as diocesan bishops. We might reasonably expect some of the half a dozen female suffragan bishops appointed in the same year this candidate was consecrated to become diocesans in the next year or two. That's good news. Praise God for Philip Sheffield, and praise God for the possibility of Libby London, Sarah Sodor and Man, Alison Bristol, or whatever else may lie in our future.

Posted by: Peter S on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 11:55am GMT

How many traditionalist Anglo-Catholic bishops does it take to make sure that the flourishing of the small group of traditionalist worshippers is sufficiently guaranteed?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 12:10pm GMT

Kate, I agree. Either God is giving different messages to everybody, or people are picking up different meanings from them. What I want to know is "Who knows what God is really saying?". Seems to me he's having a laugh.
Time for some new tablets of stone....

Posted by: David Castle on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 12:38pm GMT

I was at Bishop Philip's consecration in York and many there (including the Bishop of Chichester) had little connection with the Northern Province or the Diocese of Blackburn, and were deeply celebrating something that the women priests of this diocese felt decidedly unsettled about. I still think that it was right to be there and take part and it has been right to support Bishop Philip, that's what mutual flourishing means. The Diocese of Blackburn has been strengthened and enriched by his ministry here. He has given a lead and a model particularly for petitioning parishes and catholic parishes of how to flourish together. We are all stronger and more hopeful because of the mutual flourishing culture. It is a risk - women clergy in Sheffield will be unsettled with Bishop Philip becoming their diocesan bishop, but pray about it and talk to him about it, challenge him about it too. It may be a theological compromise, but in practice it has worked. Here in Blackburn, it has only been 2 years and he's a suffragan not diocesan, but I'd say we've built a lot more trust than we have built walls.

Posted by: Nancy Goodrich on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 1:25pm GMT

"What I want to know is "Who knows what God is really saying?""

That's easy : Caroline Boddington.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 2:37pm GMT

Please don't beat yourself up, David Runcorn, over your error about the proportion of women priests in Sheffield diocese. Your incisive comments are equally valid whether the proportion is 50%, 23% or even just one women priest. And I thank you for them, as I am sure do all the women priests in that diocese and beyond.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 3:33pm GMT

Kate - Now you're just picking at straws! God calls all people to ministry - It's a calling from God. What you do within that call is completely different. God delivers the calling but we're the physical manifestation of that calling - So no God doesn't call paedophile priests but he calls men, if they decide to act in such a horrible way then God can't be blamed because of the gift of free will

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 4:20pm GMT

Sorry Jules but you really do need to wake up and smell the coffee, because things really changed in November 2014 and they are not as you describe. I refer you to the first two of the 'five guiding principles' (to which even FiF and SSWSH allegedly subscribe), as follows:-

• 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;

So the decision is every bit as unequivocal as I described, and the C of E has not in any way 'hedged its bets' as you allege. Although the later principles do acknowledge that some people cannot receive the ministry of women, and make due and generous provision for them, this does not extend to allowing them to ignore the first two principles, as you have clearly done.

And SSWSH is not in any way a creation of the C of E. It is a breakaway group of a few of its dissenting members, and has no official status whatever.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 4:31pm GMT

"Kate - Now you're just picking at straws! God calls all people to ministry - It's a calling from God. What you do within that call is completely different. God delivers the calling but we're the physical manifestation of that calling - So no God doesn't call paedophile priests but he calls men, if they decide to act in such a horrible way then God can't be blamed because of the gift of free will"

No. Your argument was that Bishop Philip's attitude to the ordination of women is sanctioned by God because God called Philip to be a bishop. But that is directly equivalent to saying that God sanctions paedophilia by priests because he called them to be priests.

In both cases it is free will. You only see a difference because in your mind one is wholesome (so you see it as God-inspired) and one is not. But setting that personal perspective aside, there is no difference in specie.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 8:30pm GMT

Kate - Please re-read my comments and come to a definitive conclusion. Bishop Philip's ordination/ calling comes from God but his understanding/belief in the ordination of women is entirely his choice according to his own conscience. God can't sanction you to believe in anything; if that was the case then everybody would believe in God.

God calls each and everyone of us to ministry in his church; whether lay or ordained and by his grace he gives to some special roles (Ephesians 4:11). If by God's special grace, he has given Bishop Philip this role then it is a thing of great joy for us and for the church because the Spirit is still alive and active raising up passionate teachers for his people and God does not give his children more than they can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) - So I'm sure the ministry of women in Sheffield will not be in jeopardy under Bishop Philip.

I rejoice for the people of Sheffield, for the CofE, for male and female clergy in Sheffield because have gained probably one of the most gifted and pastoral Bishop of recent years.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 3 February 2017 at 12:30am GMT

Well Kate, it's not really "free choice" is it? It's called trying to be true to authentic teaching. Not only is St Paul clear on gender roles within the church, but the fathers going all the way back to Irenaeus explicitly condemn the women's ordination. Tertullian, Epiphanius and St John Damascene all do the same to name but a few. So the argument for women's ordination fails both scripturally and apostolically / by the measure of the holy tradition. So you're left with reason alone, which is simply a gender equality argument based on anthropocentric post-war societal values. It tries to hide its inadequacy behind the fig leaf of a reading of Galatians 3 which is taken out of context. And as for the argument that being against women's ordination means one thinks women are made less in the image of God, that is absurd. The Church has, from its very earliest days, honoured women and canonised them. The fullness of the Christian life and being a true child of God is not achieved through ordination, but faith and baptism (which is what Gal 3:28 is in fact all about)

Posted by: Jules on Friday, 3 February 2017 at 12:42am GMT

May I perhaps offer a quote from "Thirty-Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of Faith" (Canterbury Press, 2014)? It comes from Article 30:

"..to place this in context, I have only to recall a conversation with a diocesan bishop opposed to the ordination of women. I asked him about the wider implications of already having women bishops in the Anglican Communion.

What would he do, say, with a male priest who had been faithfully offering priestly ministry overseas for many years, but was ordained by a woman bishop? And if that same priest now asked him for permission to officiate in his diocese when he returned home? Would he grant the licence? No, he said. Would he insist on some sort of conditional re-ordination? No, he said. Then what, I asked? He replied, simply, that he would ordain. That there was no question about this. The man was not a priest: and he never had been...".

A different bishop in the same tradition said earlier in this conversation that 'women priests in the Church of England were like Methodist Ministers - they thought they were celebrating communion, but they were deluded'. 'You have to ask God to make up the difference' (in terms of bread and wine, sacramentally), he added.

I think this is the problem. It is clearly of little consequence to be "nice and supportive" to women clergy, if in fact, deep down, you, as their bishop, think they are not really priests at all. Or if they somehow are, that this a matter for regret, and ultimately something the church might repent of. It was this last point, precisely, that a former bishop of a well-know traditionalist diocese, assured me would come about in the CofE soon enough.

Fewer women are now offering for ordained ministry. We elevate men who are opposed to their ordination. We are moving down that road...

Posted by: Martyn Percy on Friday, 3 February 2017 at 3:46pm GMT

Jules - And St Paul, Tertillian, Epiphanius et al weren't influenced by the societal norms of their day? Come off it!
Again to Jules - 'Catholics in the CofE think that ordination is a gift of the Spirit' - l quite agree. Therefore how and why do you appear to feel that God may not choose to confer that gift on women? Surely it the Church which has maintained a closed shop for centuries. The Spirit blows where it wills and both women and men can and are called to be deacons, priests and bishops.

Posted by: Jane on Friday, 3 February 2017 at 4:06pm GMT

I'm interested in the way the statistics are quoted - as if only the percentage of women priests matters. Many male clergy in the diocese are very supportive of womens' ministry and are as 'unsettled' (more angry, actually) about this as the women.This nomination is affecting everybody in the diocese, both lay and ordained.

Posted by: Steph on Saturday, 4 February 2017 at 12:45pm GMT

Thank you, Mister Dean, for your perceptive comments and anecdotes, which are all depressingly true. It is almost as if our leaders have cynically published the '5 guiding principles', whilst saying, behind their hands, 'that's what we *say* is going to happen but this is what is *actually* going to happen', and the two are completely different. Although the 5 principles promised unequivocal equality, the discriminators are allowed to strut their stuff with impunity, whilst those discriminated against (our wonderful, invaluable women clergy) are expected to bite their lips and take this manifest unfairness meekly and without protest.

Thank you Steph for your valuable information about feelings in the diocese. That being the case, you know what needs to be done - produce such a groundswell of protest that +Philip feels obliged to withdraw, as he did (to his great credit) at Whitby. Easier said than done, I know, but probably the only way left of getting this unfair and unwise decision reversed.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Sunday, 5 February 2017 at 4:44pm GMT

Who appointed the panel which decided +Philip was the best candidate for Sheffield? I wonder if the outcome was pre-destined in the choosing of who would make the decision on behalf of the Diocese. I am bereft. How do we inspire new folk to become part of the Church when it allows women priests to be treated as inferior beings?
92% will become 99% because we will appear ridiculous to the younger generation who accept gender equality as a norm in civilized society.

Posted by: Jonh on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 12:20am GMT

Jonh - Although others posting on this thread know the details much better than I, the choice is made by the Crown Nominations Commission, which includes a number of representatives chosen by the diocese, a number of central representatives chosen by Synod, and some ex-officio members including the Archbishops and the Archbishop's Appointments Secretary, whose omniscience has already been referred to earlier in this thread!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 4:55pm GMT

We are called to feed the sheep, not entertain the goats. I find it amazing that for so many in the CofE they feel the Church gets its dignity and affirmation from the values of the world rather than from obedience to the revelation of the Spirit which we have received in holy Scripture and the Tradition of the saints gone before us. The invocation of "the Spirit" to mean whatever we choose it to mean (really the invocation of our own wishes and desires) is tantamount to blasphemy. Scripture is Spirit-breathed, and the Tradition of the Church is also one which we believe to be informed by the movement of the Spirit. It is completely hopeless if we start dissecting the Spirit away from its two most powerful manifestations and simply mean it to be the liberal agenda of Synod and the secular world.

Posted by: Jules on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 5:20pm GMT

With regard to Perry Butler's comment about Sheffield parishes being under the care of the Bishop of Beverley, what about the two or three Sheffield parishes under the care of the Bishop of Maidstone? Will that still be necessary?

Posted by: Stephen King on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at 9:11pm GMT
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