Friday, 24 March 2017

Bishop of Sheffield: Joint statement by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Updated Saturday 1 April

The Archbishops have issued the following statement today.

Bishop of Sheffield: Joint statement by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Friday 24th March 2017

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York made this joint statement today on the recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield.

“The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

“We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

“Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.”

+ Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis

Download the Archbishops’ letter to Sir Philip Mawer

The text of the letter is copied below the fold.

Forward in Faith has issued this statement: Forward in Faith welcomes reference to the Independent Reviewer.

Update
Law & Religion UK has a very detailed discussion of the work of the Independent Reviewer in this article: The Independent Reviewer and the Sheffield See.

23 March 2017

Dear Sir Philip Mawer,

Nomination to the See of Sheffield and concerns raised about the operation of the House of Bishops’ declaration under Regulation 27

We are writing to ask you, in your capacity as Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address certain concerns that have arisen in the Church following recent events relating to the See of Sheffield.

We do not set out the events in any detail here. You will doubtless be aware of the main elements:

  • on 6 July 2016 the See of Sheffield became vacant following the translation of Bishop Steven Croft from Sheffield to Oxford
  • on 31 January 2017 HM Government announced that, following the usual process of nomination of candidates by the Crown Nominations Commission to the Prime Minister, HM The Queen had been pleased to approve the nomination of Bishop Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, to the See of Sheffield
  • on 9 March 2017 Bishop Philip North announced that he had withdrawn his acceptance of the nomination.

This sequence of events has prompted some in the Church to question whether the House of Bishops’ Declaration of May 2014, and its five Guiding Principles, and the commitment the Church made in it to “mutual flourishing”, remain intact.

As Archbishops, Primates and Metropolitans, we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing. The Declaration formed a central element of the settlement by which we were able both to welcome women joyfully into all the orders of ministry in the Church, and also to continue to provide an honoured and permanent place in the Church for those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable, to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests.

But as Archbishop Sentamu noted in his statement commenting on Bishop Philip’s withdrawal, we are conscious that in some of the discussion about the See of Sheffield, we have not always as a Church shown how we can disagree Christianly.

Although we are clear that the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and the Guiding Principles embodied in it, remain in full force and effect, we recognise that the recent events have nonetheless raised a number of specific concerns in the Church about its operation. Some of those concerns relate to whether the nomination itself, and the procedure leading up to it, were in accordance with the Declaration. Others are about whether what happened once the nomination had been announced was consistent with the Declaration. Others relate to the degree of understanding of the Declaration in the Church.

Given the significance of these concerns (many of which have been expressed to us directly) from the point of view of the future outworking of the Declaration in the life of the Church, we therefore request you to exercise your power, as the Independent Reviewer under Regulation 27, to consider and report on the operation of the Declaration from the point of view of:

(a) what has been done in the Church, including in the diocese of Sheffield, to inform and educate clergy and laity about the settlement agreed in 2014, and the effect of the Declaration within that settlement;

(b) the process leading to the nomination of Bishop Philip North to the See of Sheffield;

(c) the consistency of that nomination with the Declaration;

(d) the reactions to that nomination in the Church and beyond; and

(e) the response of the institutional Church to the nomination and to the reactions to it.

We hope that you will be willing to investigate these concerns and that, once you have been able to do so, you will be able to produce your report on them with the minimum of delay.

The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 1:20pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

The outstanding Sir Philip Mawer, the Church of England's best servant in a generation, always gets the impossible tasks. The regulations were not drawn up with this kind of issue in mind but wisely the lawyers added a catch-all regulation:

27. Any person may raise a concern, in writing, with the Independent Reviewer in relation to any aspect of the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. Any such concern may relate to more than one act or omission under the House of Bishops’ Declaration and to more than one parish or diocese.

It is under this regulation that the Archbishops have asked Sir Philip to advise. Of course events leading up to Fr. North's nomination include the crucial CNC meetings, held under an oath of secrecy. It will be necessary for that veil to be pierced to enable the review to be conducted. My spies tell me that the CNC did of course discuss how the appointment would be received, presumably also with the candidate at interview. The fact is they got it wrong and as I have commented elsewhere this unfortunate outcome could have been foreseen. However what many people will want to understand further is how traditionalists can now ever be nominated for diocesan sees. There has never been a insuperable barrier, but the opportunities would now seem to be vanishingly thin.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 2:07pm GMT

So in the face of genuine questions about theology they seek a review of process. Truly absurd.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 2:09pm GMT

I am much cheered that the Archbishops have decided to refer this to the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer. Entirely appropriate. Also delighted by their commitment to mutual flourishing. That is why many of us remain in the Church of England. Thank you Archbishops.

Posted by: Fr Frank Nichols on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 2:24pm GMT

The Archbishops' letter is a wonderful example of fence-sitting.

This letter begs the question--which of course was the problem with the Bishops' Declaration, the five principles, and the phrase "mutual flourishing."

There are those of us who argued at the time that the 2014 compromise was (among other things) opaque and therefore troublesome.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 2:36pm GMT

The archbishops don't get it. It is not about disagreement. Do CoE bishops never take a course on social justice 101? It is about girls being raised knowing that they are equally created in the Image of God and equally empowered to follow their call or vocations in life. It is about women clergy, who have undergone discernment processes, working in environments where they are affirmed and not having to put up with daily humiliation.

Issues of being are different from simply disagreeing. The archbishops seem quite tone deaf to the problem of how girls, women, and female clergy can flourish under a diocesan who's very view of them is intrinsically humiliating.

The essential flaw of the 5 Principles, as some people see them, is that it does not recognize the profound difference between being and disagreement. And it never addressed how mutual flourishing can work.

Men cannot dictate that women "shouldn't" feel unaffirmed! Men cannot dictate and narrowly define terms like "taint" - which is at the heart of it. It's how these things are received that are the crucial matter.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 3:12pm GMT

I am unsure if I fully understand the concept of the statements, but does this mean that Bishop will be re-instated as Bishop of Sheffield. I honestly do wish so because he is a true CHRISTIAN and very Godly man.

Posted by: Catherine John on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 3:29pm GMT

There is nothing to stop Sir Philip Mawer commenting on the lack of theology in the mix is there? I see both process and theology urgently needing review.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 3:31pm GMT

" to inform and educate clergy and laity about the settlement agreed in 2014.."

Dear oh dear oh dear. A fudge agreed by a majority of the General Synod cannot in conscience bind the rest of us in any way whatsoever. It may bind this or that committee, and may lead to nominations such as the recent Sheffield one. But it cannot stop the rest of us seeking clarifications from such a nominee, pointing out to the whole world how unsatisfactory such an appointment would be, and doing everything in our power to thwart such an appointment. The Archbishops are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think otherwise.

Posted by: american piskie on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 3:44pm GMT

'I am unsure if I fully understand the concept of the statements, but does this mean that Bishop will be re-instated as Bishop of Sheffield. I honestly do wish so because he is a true CHRISTIAN and very Godly man.'

Catherine, I haven't heard anyone dispute Bp.. Philip's faith, godliness, or even sheer niceness. The issue is: is his membership of a rather extreme organisation which discriminates against women (and some men), compatible with being diocesan bishop of a city which has a long and proud tradition of campaigning for women's equality?

Specific questions about his theology and how this would work out in practice have been asked again and again since his appointment, and there has been no answer.

I greatly admire his championing of the poor and raising the profile of ministry on housing estates. But if you read the SAME (Sheffield and Ministry Equality) website, it's clear that this appointment was mishandled from the beginning. And some of that is not his fault, but reflects on the system more generally.

I hope Philip Mawer's review will take all this into account.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 4:06pm GMT

I agree with David Runcorn's view: process + theology. I hope that the role of the CNC is looked at critically and that the real questions raised are acknowledged and suggestions made, if only for a next stage.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 5:52pm GMT

It may be worth noting for the record that there is an Oxford Diocesan Synod motion on reviewing the appointment of bishops already on the General Synod list. This derives from a Deanery Synod motion brought to Oxford Diocesan Synod in March 2016 following the (now rather minor looking) issues experienced with the recent appointment in Oxford Diocese. The Oxford Diocesan Synod motion was in fact addressed to the Archbishops rather than General Synod.

Others may wish to sponsor such motions in their own synods. I asked in March 2017 Oxford Diocesan Synod (question planned before the Sheffield drama, as the original debate had wanted more urgent action than being parked in the General Synod queue) what response had been received from the Archbishops to whom the motion was originally addressed.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 6:57pm GMT

I wonder if the Archbishops' reference to Sir Philip Mawer was prompted (at least in part) by the Private Member's Motion (PMM) I have tabled and which was posted on the General Synod pages of the C of E website on Wednesday. Synod members were notified of the PMM by e-mail later that day from the Synod Office and have until 10th May to sign it (electronically) if it is to be considered by the Business Committee for inclusion in the agenda for the Group of Sessions at York in July (It needs 100 + signatures by 10th May.)

This is the text of the motion:

That this Synod:

(a) share the sadness and regret of the Rt Revd Philip North in his decision, announced on 9 March 2017, to withdraw acceptance of his nomination to the See of Sheffield;

(b) note the substantial support for Bishop North's nomination from many women and men, lay and ordained, in the dioceses of both Sheffield and Blackburn, and in the wider Church of England;

(c) express its full support for Bishop North in his future ministry, whether in the Blackburn diocese or elsewhere;

(d) note, with concern, the implications of Bishop North's decision, and the public debate that preceded it, for the 'mutual flourishing' of the Church of England; and

(e) request the House of Bishops urgently to review the 'Five Guiding Principles' and to consider whether they need to be amended or amplified in order to ensure that there is an equal place at all levels in the Church for men and women of different theological convictions on the issue of women's ordination, and to report to the Synod by February 2018.

Posted by: David Lamming on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 6:58pm GMT

I really don't think the 5 principles and the HoB guidance cover the case of a traditionalist bishop being a diocesan. They are all about how it is all right for people to have their own little sectioned off bits of the church.

If HoB or anyone else think it is a goer, then someone needs to sit down with Martin Warner and get him to write down or talk about how he works in Chichester. An independent academic/researcher needs to talk with people in Chichester Diocese about how they feel it works, be they clergy, male or female, lay people or traditionalists.

Then the HoB, with extra theological or pragmatic input, as necessary, need to decide whether they wish to add to guidance or even add a sixth principle which says how it might work if Diocesan does not fully accept women priests or bishops.

If HoB do not think that the Chichester/Warner method is a suitable template to work with and does not come up with anything better Philip North or others of his views should not be put through the farce of being considered by the CNC. If a potentially workable template -- even if a fudge -- can be found then Philip North could be reconsidered.

As time goes on it is going to be increasingly difficult to find people from that tradition of the right calibre who have had a sufficiently wide experience to be Diocesan episcopal material. They will tend to withdraw into areas where they feel comfortable and not mix enough. The exceptional will become even more exceptional.

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 7:45pm GMT

How would someone ask Sir Philip to consider whether the Society's (and Philip North's by extension) insistence on a patrilineal Apostolic succession is consistent with the guiding principles? Maybe something WATCH could do?

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 7:55pm GMT

Is this not the re-emergent problem of what has been called the "Two Integrities" - which led to that rara avis the Flying Bishop?

The real problem with Bishop North appointment to become a diocesan bishop - rather than a suffragan with no specific jurisdiction - is his doubt about the authenticity of the priestly ministry being carried out under his supervision. Has this particular bishop to live with a double conscience? Or is the Church itself being Double-minded?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 10:36pm GMT

Good to see this referred by the Archbishops to Sir Philip Mawer. That should mean a thorough review of the process.

But they can't handball the theological work to an independent reviewer. The House of Bishops - or, in their absence, another group - needs to see to that work as a matter of urgency.

Perhaps a conference on "Mutual Flourishing?" is in order? Shall we organise a Thinking Anglicans conference?

Finally, the Oxford appointment is not a minor sideshow but is arguably fundamental to this crisis as the failure of the first CNC process for Oxford led directly to the Sheffield debacle when Sheffield's bishop was translated to Oxford out of the second CNC process.

Posted by: Peter S on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 10:47pm GMT

Cynthia, regardless of your disagreement with the five principles, do you not see any obligation flowing from them? The time for your arguments was before the compromise measures were passed. How should England deal with the situation as-is, not as it arguably should've been?

As for "men" dictating to women, I shouldn't need to remind you that there's men and women on both sides of this, and ad homs are a fallacy for good reason. If the kinda "social justice" on offer sees people's words judged not on their merits, but on the sex of the person speaking, it's replaced one kinda sexism with another. Isn't equality the thing aimed for?

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 6:10am GMT

As Archbishops, Primates and Metropolitans...

Real meaning? Respect us! Do as we say!

Posted by: Cantab on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 8:20am GMT

Susan Cooper: Brilliant idea. I hope somebody picks it up and runs with it sooner rather than later.

David Lamming. Your PPM misses the point as do so many comments on TA over this issue. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the 5 principles. Much more guidance needs to be given to Vacancy in See Committees on how to write a Diocesan Profile. It is quite clear that the Sheffield profile should have included a comment that they wanted a Diocesan who ordained women. It would seem that the reason it didn't was because it was felt to be 'so obvious'. Had the profile made this clear, we would not be in the position we are in now and Philip North would not have suffered as he clearly has. I only hope Sir Philip Mawer is able to see this issue clearly for what it actually is.

Posted by: Anne on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 9:13am GMT

I do think that it is a bit rich to be lectured about the problems of two integrities, flying bishops and double consciences from New Zealand, where the Anglican Church has a racially segregated episcopate.

Posted by: Robin Ward on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 9:27am GMT

And yet, Robin Ward, New Zealand has a pattern of overlapping jurisdictions. Perhaps not so rich so much as an example to which the CofE could aspire?

Posted by: Victoriana on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 10:33am GMT

Investigation by the Independent Reviewer was an inevitable consequence of the debacle in Sheffield. That whole furore demonstrated very clearly that those who opposed Bishop Philip's appointment had little sense of what "mutual flourishing" and the Five Principles are all about. Sadly, it also seemed to suggest that, even if they did, they have no genuine will to embrace those holding a different theological perspective to themselves. I remain staggered at the lengths to which some of those Christians were prepared to go in order to ensure Bishop Philip stepped down. It was mob rule of the worst kind, and it is to be hoped it will be corrected by the findings of Sir Philip Mawer.

Posted by: Benedict on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 11:09am GMT

Jeremy, the obligation in the guiding principles to provide for the minority has to be done in a way which maximises communion and mutual flourishing. The promotion of Philip North would have led to impaired communion within the Sheffield diocese and diminished the flourishing of women. His installation would not, therefore, have been in accordance with the guiding principles and the CNC was (if the principles are accepted) not entitled to appoint him.

It is also important to note that the guiding principles only impose one obligation upon individuals (and no obligation upon us laity) which is to accept that the Church of England has reached a clear decision to appoint women bishops. Disagreeing, even volubly, is entirely in accordance with the principles. The Society and Forward and Faith do it. What has taken them, and the archbishops, by surprise is that those on the other side have started to do so.

The obligation to provide for the flourishing of the minority like Philip North rests upon the institutional church, not upon any individuals. As a minimum, the institution should by now have created a non-geographic diocese for the minority. It hasn't.

In short:

1. The status of the guiding principles is dubious
2. Under the guiding principles, the CNC was not entitled to appoint Philip North because of the negative impact on communion and mutual flourishing within the diocese
3. We are all entitled to disagree without limitation on every point other than that the Church of England has decided to ordain women to the level of both presbyter and bishop
4. The obligation to provide for the minority rests upon the institutional church, not any individual

So objections raised are entirely in accordance with the guiding principles.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 12:31pm GMT

It is a very skewed reading of the principles by Kate. I wonder if she has actually read them?!

Posted by: Benedict on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 2:26pm GMT

"Cynthia, regardless of your disagreement with the five principles, do you not see any obligation flowing from them? The time for your arguments was before the compromise measures were passed. How should England deal with the situation as-is, not as it arguably should've been?"

No James. Because the guiding principles did not work out how female clergy and girls and women in general could "flourish" with a non affirming diocesan. It's as simple as that. The talk of "mutual flourishing" is completely empty without working out that component. The fact that Sheffield balked reveals that stumbling block. Sheffield was under no obligation to suffer an unhealthy situation for them just because the "mutual flourishing" bit wasn't worked out.

Believe it or not, I'm intrigued by S. Cooper's solution as well as the New Zealand one of overlapping dioceses. I'm not against "traditionalists" having sacramental assurance, even if I personally believe it to be ridiculous. I'm speaking up for the flourishing of the vulnerable, be it girls or the work environment for clergy, or young families wanting to raise their families free of bigotry of any kind. Bigotry is a strong word, but that is how the up and coming generation mostly sees it. I also think that the LGBTQI part of the equation needs factoring in. Because "radical inclusion" would require full inclusion, affirming, and welcoming of all. Then the "unity in diversity" thing could start to work. But not while there's too much hypocrisy.

And yes, dioceses need to have a choice about their bishops.

And no, I would never say that girls are obligated to suffer because grown ups botched a job.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 2:54pm GMT

I'm not sure how Philip North's appointment would have impaired communion within the Diocese. Under Steven Croft and his predecessor a significant proportion of the diocese (as much as 20%) were in impaired communion with the diocesan bishop. Presumably Philip North would have brought all those back into full communion. Now we will continue to have a fifth of the diocese not able to receive the ministry of the diocesan bishop. And, before anyone says it, one cannot argue that women would be out of communion with Philip North. It doesn't work like that. Philip North's orders are not in question and no one can seriously argue that opposing the ordination of women is a source of impaired communion (being a focus of unity is not about popularity but about being a focus of the unity of the Catholic faith, defending its doctrines etc however much a rebellious clergy might not like that - in this way the bishop is a father figure in the Church, not a political party leader). As it stands now the only true focus of unity in the Diocese is the Bishop of Beverley, who alone upholds the faith and unifies his people with the faith of the wider Church. The rest is greater schism, disunity, impaired communion and man-made responses to every fashionable cause. A great shame Philip North wasn't able to bring order to this sad state of affairs.

Posted by: Adam on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 4:13pm GMT

'If HoB or anyone else think it is a goer, then someone needs to sit down with Martin Warner and get him to write down or talk about how he works in Chichester. An independent academic/researcher needs to talk with people in Chichester Diocese about how they feel it works, be they clergy, male or female, lay people or traditionalists.'

I'm not sure this would help much - Chichester and Sheffield dioceses are so different. Chichester has a history of being largely Anglo-Catholic and opposed to the ordination of women, while Sheffield has a greater range of churchmanship and a tradition of promoting inclusion of women and other groups. This applies to city as well as diocese. The last few bishops of Sheffield have been evangelicals.

What works in one diocese might not work in another; and what feels like progress in Chichester might feel like regress in Sheffield.

What we need is a working party, not exclusively of bishops, to work out how to apply the Guiding Principles in different situations, and where the diocesan bishop is not in full communion with all his clergy. By 'full communion' I mean prepared to receive the sacraments from them, as well as administer to them. The working party should include theologians and practitioners who have a greater understanding of issues resulting from imbalances of power, than the HoB has hitherto demonstrated.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 4:55pm GMT

Re the suggestion of a separate non-territorial "diocese" -- this would, I suggest, not be a good thing at all. It would entrench views even more than now. We should not forget that parishes move on, and it is quite often only a few people in a congregation who are very strongly opposed to women clergy. Many others will go along with them, because they are their friends and fellow Christians, and they have no desire to unchurch them. But leaving their diocese is another matter, and cutting the parish off from its real diocesan bishop is a big step. I write from personal experience, since the parish I worship in was for 20 years a FinF ABC place. When the priest and two assistant retired clergy left to join the Ordinariate they may have thought that a significant number of parishioners would go with them. A few certainly did, but the congregation is bigger and stronger already, welcoming female and male clergy, and relieved to be fully participating in the life of our real diocese again. Voting to be in a separate diocese would have been living in a pretend world.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 6:31pm GMT

The declaration of 2014 states that a diocese can say if they wish to have a bishop who ordains women. It seems that this was not made explicit in the statement of needs which Sheffield submitted, which is unfortunate This seems to be one of the reasons that Philip North was able to be appointed.

I do agree with Cynthia that the five guiding principles have not worked out how mutual flourishing would work in practical terms with a bishop who does not accept women as truly ordained priests. The five guiding principles really need to be revised now in the light of what has happened in Sheffield.

The whole process has been very painful for everyone concerned. Philip North should not have been put into the position of being rejected in such a public way.

Posted by: Beausoleil on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 7:13pm GMT

Janet Fife: 'Chichester has a history of being largely Anglo-Catholic and opposed to the ordination of women, while Sheffield has a greater range of churchmanship and a tradition of promoting inclusion of women and other groups. This applies to city as well as diocese. The last few bishops of Sheffield have been evangelicals.'

Huh? Chichester is southern and largely rural; Sheffield is northern and urban. That's the difference, though I don't see how it affects this issue. Except that I doubt if more than a minority of country parishes in Chichester or anywhere could be described as Anglo-catholic, which is largely an urban phenomenon. The Lewes episcopal area was until recently under a very hardline evangelical bishop and I believe many parishes were influenced by that.

And Jack Nicholls, the last but one bishop of Sheffield, was certainly not an evangelical, in the conventional 'party' sense of that word anyway. 'Liberal Catholic', but with the accent on the latter, I would have thought.

Posted by: David Emmott on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 9:42pm GMT

"It is a very skewed reading of the principles by Kate. I wonder if she has actually read them?"

Of course I have read them.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 11:09pm GMT

I couldn't agree more about the inclusion of LGBT people, Cynthia: but in hardening traditionalists against compromise, forcing North's resignation has likely had the opposite effect. LGBT Anglicans in England now look set to be consigned to second-class status until the numbers increase to force through change at the cost of schism, which could be decades away.

However bad it would've been for women in Sheffield, it's worse for LGBT Anglicans of both sexes: they're likely to pay the cost for this move. However unintended the consequences, it doesn't mitigate the damage they'll do.

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 11:42pm GMT

David Emmett, I'm from Chichester Diocese. When I was there there were evangelical churches, certainly, but the diocese as a whole had a much more catholic/high church tradition. And they are used to bishops who don't ordain women, whether catholic or Reformed. In fact they agreed to sponsor me for ordination but said explicitly there would be no job for me to come back to as they didn't have posts for women! And when the Bishop of Lewes visited ordinands in Oxford, he didn't bother to include me. This is all a long time ago but I still follow events in Chichester.

Re. Sheffield, I am taking my facts from other people and contributors, from letters in the Church Times, and from the SAME website. Jack Nichols was of the more high church persuasion but, as I understand it, Sheffield diocese doesn't invariably have high church bishops or bishops opposed to ordaining women. Certainly Steven Croft set a pattern of encouraging women's ministry.

If I have got some of my facts wrong I apologise, but it does appear that the ethos of the two dioceses is very different.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 10:10am BST

The dissembling Bishop of Swansea and Brecon got a bit stuck when Edward Stourton asked him on the BBC Sunday programme this morning about the Dean of St Albans statement that homophobic remarks were made during his interview. The silence was palpable, akin to a power cut, and he pleaded confidentiality. This will simply not do. Nor has he responded to the Welsh MPs letter. The Church in Wales is already in meltdown and this only confirms the fact. The College of Bishops should hang its head in shame and resign en masse.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 11:09am BST

Adam, you say: " I'm not sure how Philip North's appointment would have impaired communion within the Diocese. Under Steven Croft and his predecessor a significant proportion of the diocese (as much as 20%) were in impaired communion with the diocesan bishop. Presumably Philip North would have brought all those back into full communion...And, before anyone says it, one cannot argue that women would be out of communion with Philip North. It doesn't work like that. Philip North's orders are not in question and no one can seriously argue that opposing the ordination of women is a source of impaired communion."
I don't understand how you can square your final comment with the Statement of Principles by the Council of Bishops of the Society which states, "2.3 The parishes of The Society enjoy a relationship of full ecclesial communion not only with the Society bishop under whose oversight they have been placed, but also with the other Bishops of The Society and with all the parishes of The Society.
2.4 The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests provides for parishes to receive oversight from bishops with whom they are in full communion, and provides for the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons who are able to provide the sacramental and pastoral ministry that is needed. The Society builds on this provision."
My understanding of these statements is the Philip North as a Bishop of the society is only in full communion with the other Bishops and the Parishes of The Society. And that must be true of all other Bishops of the Society. So looking at Diocesan appointments in general, not Sheffield in particular, the appointment of any Bishop of The Society would indeed bring back into full communion with their Diocesan Bishop all Parishes affiliated to The Society, but all other parishes in the Diocese would now, according to The Society, NOT be in full communion with their Diocesan bishop. The leaflet also says: "Only the sacramental ministry of Priests of The Society can be received with confidence." So by definition sacramental ministry offered by others is invalid.
Am I missing something? These comments suggest to me that your 80% of the Diocese would have been in impaired communion. Adam, please give me your reasoning behind your statement that the appointment of Philip North would have brought the whole Diocese of Sheffield into full communion with their Diocesan Bishop. My understanding is that it is The Society which says it is not in full communion with anyone who is not a Bishop of The Society or in a Parish of The Society, not other Bishops or Parishes. Please help me with this, I am genuinely troubled and really want to understand your reasoning.

Posted by: Anne on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 11:43am BST

Benedict: 'mob rule of the worst kind' etc.

This sustained rant accuses the opponents of Philip North's appointment of just about everything, only drawing breath to hope 'it will be corrected' by the Independent Reviewer, (as if Philip Mawer was some public-school headmaster). Moving on, he more or less accuses Kate of not having read the FGP before commenting on them! This is intemperate language, and is untrue (as she has pointed out) and unworthy. There has been no 'mob rule' on TA, and he should apologise. Then he and his like, and Philip North, and the Archbishops, may at last get down to answering the simple theological question, of how a diocesan bishop can function effectively when he and 'The Society' he belongs to, do not believe that the women priests in his diocese can administer a valid sacrament? Simple question: As yet, rants and 'reviews of process' but no plausible answer from any of them!

Posted by: Steve Morgan on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 11:53am BST

Kate, if you have indeed read the Five Principles as you have suggested, and the accompanying Declaration, then you will doubtlessly be aware that the Principles are to be read in their entirety, and not piecemeal. In other words, although the Church of England has come to a decision on the matter and all are called to acknowledge this, her members are urged as well to recognise that, consistent with the Great Churches of East and West, there are those in the Church of England (both women and men) who are unable, in conscience, to accept the ministry of women bishops or priests. "Mutual flourishing" is thus not just about women clergy in the Diocese of Sheffield being able to flourish, but it also accommodates those who have a different perspective on matters. It is about seeking to work together as far as is theologically possible. Nowhere in the Declaration or Principles does it say someone like Bishop Philip
North could not be appointed as a Diocesan. In fact, it allows for that very occurrence in that it says in those instances where the Diocesan Bishop will not ordain women to the priesthood, there must always be one in the Diocese who does. You know very well that in the Diocese of Sheffield this would have been the case. And what gives you reason to suggest that the status of the Guiding Principles is dubious? If that were the case, why have the Archbishops felt it necessary to refer the whole matter to the Independent Reviewer? A further question I have to ask you is how was the CNC not entitled to appoint Bishop Philip? Are you really suggesting that proper procedure has not been followed, and especially given Her Majesty's consent to the appointment? I think you will find that when the Independent Reviewer delivers his report, such sweeping statements as those you expressed earlier in the thread will be left found severely wanting.

Posted by: Benedict on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 12:47pm BST

Adam states that no one in the diocese of Sheffield could claim to be out of communion with Philip North, as the validity of his orders are doubted by no-one. But this is missing an essential point about communion: it is centred on the Eucharistic act itself, a lived and shared reality. Ignatius of Antioch argues that the Eucharist is fundamentally that of the bishop, and offered on the bishop's behalf by the college of presbyters. But how could a priest in the diocese of Sheffield claim to offer the bishop’s Eucharist when the bishop would refuse to receive the Eucharist from that very priest?

As a priest, being in communion with your diocesan bishop is not simply declaring that you recognise that person's Eucharist as valid. If that was the case then the women priests of the diocese of Sheffield could happily say that they were offering the Eucharist of their diocesan; as Adam says, no-one is saying that Philip North wouldn't have been a validly ordained diocesan. But in that situation there could never have been​ the mutual unity of presbyter and bishop expressed through their common Eucharist. Communion is a two way thing: it goes both ways. Otherwise I can say that I recognise the Pope's orders and claim that he's in communion with me. Even nice fluffy Papa Bergoglio might raise an eyebrow at that.

Posted by: Laurence Price on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 1:32pm BST

Benedict

Unless I am mistaken, the guiding principles were not subject to a vote in Synod and form no part of any measure or canon. I do think they are being over-emphasised and that, if the bishops want guiding principles, they should be subject to a separate vote in Synod.

Yes, I agree the guiding principles are to be read as a whole and that tension between them was expected. I still stand by what I say, though.

If you read the Forward in Faith website you will find that they have parsed the guiding principles carefully from their perspective. They identify that the guiding principles require acceptance of the office of women priests and bishops but not their orders. That is something the Church can live with for traditional parishes. It is, however, a problem, at the level of diocesan bishop when, for all the reasons people have expressed, the diocesan bishop HAS to accept not just the offices of female ministers, but also their orders. Otherwise, he is not (and presumably does not see himself to be) in full communion with his diocese and that is intolerable. On the basis of that, I do believe that a CNC is not entitled to appoint any member of the Society or Forward in Faith as a diocesan bishop - if the guiding principles are accepted.

I think that the problem is that traditionalists thought that the guiding principles were only for their benefit. Sheffield has come as a nasty shock with others reading the guiding principles and saying that things like mutual flourishing and maximising communion aren't one way.

It is irrelevant anyway. It does not matter what the guiding principles say, or even what the bishops say. A diocesan bishop who doesn't openly and fully accept the orders of all the priests in his/her diocese can never again be appointed because he cannot command the support of his diocese. No review can change that.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 6:47pm BST

Steve Morgan, please do not accuse me of "ranting". Your own language is very intemperate. Bishop Philip North had to step aside, as you well know, because of a sustained campaign against his appointment by some of those who hold a different view to him. I did not in any way claim that there had been "mob rule" on the website Thinking Anglicans. I was talking about the wider Church, as well you know. It happened in Whitby, and it happened again in Sheffield. Kate, I am sure, will come back in due course with her own response to what I have said.

Posted by: Benedict on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 7:55pm BST

Laurence, when I take communion, it draws me into communion with Christ. Whether someone is Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, male or female, doesn't change that fact.

Communion is not a political alliance that excludes those who differ from us. Communion is the Oneness that Christ draws us into with God.

Given that the Church of England officially recognises female priests and bishops, it's not actually what their diocesan thinks about them that matters. It's what God thinks about them. And Jesus died for them.

I think that should be enough to validate their communion with Him, don't you?

Our oneness, our unity and our communion is only, ever, in Christ. If we turn to Christ, then the grace of God and the love of God - the love that went to the point of no turning back, and the outpouring of blood - draws us into communion with God in the eternal household.

People can try to appropriate that communion in any way they want, but it's really not theirs to appropriate. Our communion is with God, and really, people can have their different views, but God is faithful and God waits with open outstretched arms to receive us and live in communion with us.

The realities of love and grace - and the way we treat each other - are maybe far more important than who polices access to God, when actually God longs for us to open our hearts and lives, and share in God's own love and community - that community of the Holy Trinity, and that eternal communion that is Oneness and sharing in God.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 9:15pm BST

Benedict - most of what I have read represents sustained questions rather than a sustained campaign against a person - and questions which remain to be answered. You have a very definite reading of the five principles, but the two words "mutual" "flourishing" are both ambiguous and possibly represent the last attempt of the Church of England to bury its differences in ambiguities. A great deal of effort has been put in by members of "the society" to create space and structures wherein they can flourish, and this has been accommodated by the church as a whole. But neither "the society" not the Church of England, nor the House of Bishops nor the Diocese of Sheffield have given any theological or ecclesiological rationale for the appointment of diocesan bishop who affirms the core beliefs and practices of "the society"nor any practical protocols by which such an appointment could be made to work - in my mind mutuality requires work to be done here as it has been on the other side of things. What happens on Maundy Thursday, for example? The supporters of the appointment have often reverted to the personal qualities of the candidate, which are not in point in relation to the acute questions which arise. Further, the supportive references have often been to the effect on ordained women, rather than on the church as a whole - there is an implicit clericalism which needs to be nailed. There is much to clarify, and that is because the work has not been done. Part of that work can be assisted by the independent reviewer, but he can't be expected to do it all.

I have mentioned elsewhere in a comment on this site the Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on the appointment of bishops. There is an unverifiable undercurrent which suggests that conservative blocking minorities have on occasion vetoed the appointment of well-qualified women simply because they were women. The whole process needs a proper review in a context where such things can be honestly examined and unfounded rumours can be named for what they are.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 9:43pm BST

Kate -

If 20% of the diocese already had impaired communion under Steven Croft and Jack Nicholls, why, even if one does accept that Philip North would bring impaired communion, would that be especially significant? It is already happening in Sheffield on a big scale, far bigger than the CofE as a whole, due to the far larger than average number of traditionalist parishes in Sheffield Diocese.

Posted by: Adam on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 10:24pm BST

I disagree entirely with Kate's position. It seems clear that Mutual flourishing means that traditionalists must be able to be appointed as Diocesans. This is foreseen in the House of Bishops' Declaration.

However, on the particular issue about the status of the Five Guiding Principles, they are in fact enshrined in Canon. Canon C 29 refers to the power of the House of Bishops to make Regulations to give effect to their Declaration. Those Regulations make express reference to the Five Guiding Principles. The Canon further provides that those Regulations may not be changed without a vote by houses commanding a 2/3 majority in each House.

Quite apart from this it is entirely wrong to say the Principles were not subject to a vote in Synod when the Measure allowing the consecration of women to the episcopate was passed only because the Declaration in the terms it currently stands was to be made before or immediately after the passing of the Measure.

Posted by: Nick on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 10:40pm BST

Does anyone know what the process will be now? For example will there be an opportunity to make submissions to Sir Philip or is he simply reviewing the process there has been in Sheffield? Will his findings be open to debate & discussion or will they be the property of the Archbishops?

And where do those of us whose churches are LEPs fit into this - mine is Anglican/Methodist - or are we not to be recognised? Will the Concordat with the Methodist Church be ignored?

Posted by: Sioned-Mair Richards on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 10:43pm BST

I felt I was probably spending too much time posting on TA, so I gave it up for Lent! But, today having been 'Refreshment Sunday', I thought I might allow myself one post.
Anthony Archer's posts are measured and authoritative as always, although his slightly less measured post about the Church in Wales has surely been copied from another thread?

Steve Morgan has it right on two counts - it does all boil down to the simple theological question he quotes, posed many times but never answered, and Benedict was ranting.

But I fear that Benedict may be right on one point. Sir Philip may well rule in favour of the minority, as he has (disappointingly to me) on the earlier points referred to him. Given the terms of reference for his review, he may well conclude that the process has been correctly followed, unwise though the outcome may be. He is not qualified to rule on the underlying theological point, although he may suggest that others should do so. And I fear that he will not feel able to suggest, as I believe, that the HoB declaration is itself in conflict with the 5 principles, as it specifically provides for a situation which is the very opposite of mutual flourishing. A traditionalist bishop appointed to a diocesan see may well flourish, but the women priests in that diocese are subjected to the worst possible undermining - having the validity of their orders denied. There is nothing mutual about that.

I hope and pray that Sir Philip will prove me wrong. Now back to the Lenten fast!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at 11:41pm BST

"However, on the particular issue about the status of the Five Guiding Principles, they are in fact enshrined in Canon. Canon C 29 refers to the power of the House of Bishops to make Regulations to give effect to their Declaration. "

Firstly, this does not disagree with my point that the declaration (and therefore the guiding principles) lacks status. Secondly, Canon C29 does not give " power of the House of Bishops to make Regulations to give effect to their Declaration. " as you suggest, Canon C29 only empowers the bishops in terms of dispute resolution.

"If 20% of the diocese already had impaired communion under Steven Croft and Jack Nicholls,"

What is the problem with Steven Croft and Jack Nicholls?

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 12:53am BST

"I disagree entirely with Kate's position. It seems clear that Mutual flourishing means that traditionalists must be able to be appointed as Diocesans."

It isn't remotely clear how female clergy, girls, and female laity "flourish" with a non affirming diocesan. Or how it works when the diocesan thinks that women aren't really priests and the sacraments aren't really valid.

I think that "mutual flourishing" means that "traditionalists" bishops must never be appointed as diocesans. At least not until it's worked out how the women and girls actually flourish. Otherwise it isn't "mutual" or "flourishing."

Until that is answered, the wailings of the traditionalists sounds like they really don't care about women and girls flourishing. They just want to get what they are "entitled" to, regardless of the hurtful impact. The science is in, exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric and actions has a dreadful cost on the psyche's of women and girls. Those are the "fruits" of the "traditional" position. Until you work your way around that so that women and girls feel affirmed and lifted up, there's no path to progress.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 2:52am BST

Nick wrote, "it is entirely wrong to say the Principles were not subject to a vote in Synod when the Measure allowing the consecration of women to the episcopate was passed only because the Declaration in the terms it currently stands was to be made before or immediately after the passing of the Measure."

To be clear: Synod did not vote on the 5 principles.

If anyone understood the 5 principles to be a statement binding for all time on the Church of England as a whole, including its laity and clergy, well . . . Knowing how the CofE is structured, what can we say other than that such an understanding would have been naive?

Proponents of women bishops cannot be blamed if the 5 principles raised false hopes among traditionalists.

Those principles were the work of the (arch?)bishops.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 2:53am BST

How have we reached the position that all ordinands have to assent to the five guiding principles?

Posted by: Stephen Griffiths on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 8:03am BST

Mark I agree when you write - 'There is an unverifiable undercurrent which suggests that conservative blocking minorities have on occasion vetoed the appointment of well-qualified women simply because they were women.' This needs bringing to the surface and examining as part of this process. Why are there not yet more diocesan bishops who are women?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 8:03am BST

It appears to me that there a sizeable minority who won't be happy until all traditionalists leave (or are forced out of) the C of E. They will then probably accuse them of schism as well.

Posted by: Simon D on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 9:33am BST

There is at least a sizable minority who do not think that misogyny should be enshrined in the church's structure, policy, or leadership.

And is it a minority? For instance, going forward in light of Sheffield, I expect that every diocesan statement will explicitly request that the CNC consider only candidates who ordain women. Even the bishops' 5 principles permit these requests.

So anti-women-bishop traditionalists do need to decide whether having such a traditionalist as a diocesan is a sine qua non.

It seems to me that over the past few decades, anti-women-bishop traditionalists have painted themselves into a corner rather than reform themselves. Closing the gates and manning the ramparts is one response to change. But when it no longer is sustainable, the selection of that response cannot be blamed on others.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 12:26pm BST

Kate -

The reason that Steven Croft and Jack Nicholls were unacceptable to a large proportion of the diocese is because they ordained women, and thus in the view of Anglo-Catholic and Conservative Evangelical church they were either (a) guilty of a public act of schism from the wider church, (b) publicly repudiating biblical teaching on male headship (a Christological issue for traditionalists), or both.

This is the other issue for traditionalists when it comes to the authority of bishops: the bishops don't stand up for orthodoxy for orthodoxy's sake, so they have no authority. Yes, if the doctrine on Christian marriage happens to coincide with their own personal prejudices, they'll defend it. But as soon as the two part company the personal opinion will always be given precedence. This is disastrous for Church leadership. As such the conservatives don't recognise their authority and the liberals just don't take them seriously. They have dug their own graves on all these issues.

Posted by: Adam on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 12:39pm BST

«Mark I agree when you write - 'There is an unverifiable undercurrent which suggests that conservative blocking minorities have on occasion vetoed the appointment of well-qualified women simply because they were women.' This needs bringing to the surface and examining as part of this process. Why are there not yet more diocesan bishops who are women?»

By the settlement, conservatives are entitled to decline to accept the ministry of women. Those who hold to that view cannot, in good conscience, vote for a woman since they do not believe she has been called by God.

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 12:46pm BST

Kate You are missing my point - and Mark's. Where the majority can truly believe a woman is being called the appointment can be blocked by a minority vote. This needs looking at.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 3:33pm BST

How have we reached the position that all ordinands have to assent to the five guiding principles?

[Posted by: Stephen Griffiths on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 8:03am BST]

Yes they do have to do this and I have to write in their report to the bishop that they do so assent.

Posted by: Charles Read on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 3:58pm BST

Just a public service reminder that the guiding principles crafted (if you can call it that) by the bishops was done without a 50-50 female-male representation. In fact, was was the representation of women at that time? Oh yes. Zero.

And before folks starting listing all the traditional supporting women, the social science indicates that it takes about a 30 percent representation to get to a tipping point where women's voices start to really count. Mark Bennett suggests that not only are women being shot down for promotion, but so are women supporting men.

My recommendation is to put a moratorium on anti-women diocesans until the House of Bishops gets to 30 percent or more female. My guess is that the women will help come up with a plan that works for everyone. We usually do.

I note that the Anglican Communion has a large and robust delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women each year and they sign on in support of women's equality in many forms. I suspect that if CoE lives into it, they'll see an improvement in many areas, including a place for traditionalists. But right now, the appearance is that traditionalists are blocking women supporters and claiming their territory as quickly as possible to control the narrative and maintain a privileged position.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 4:39pm BST

"How have we reached the position that all ordinands have to assent to the five guiding principles?"

Have we reached the point where anyone understands what the five guiding principles mean, in practice?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 5:25pm BST

Can you remind us, Charles, exactly where in the documentation that has been issued, the instruction relating to ordinands, etc is located. And while we are about it, where is the instruction relating to priests receiving new licenses, e.g. when moving to a new parish. I ask about this because I have been told of a recent instance of such licensing when it was not mentioned at all.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 6:12pm BST

I wonder if it's significant that in Sheffield a couple of years ago the only ordinands who had even heard of the Five Guiding Principles were traditionalists? It seems certainly on the YMC at least that ordinands were not being asked to assent to them at all.

Posted by: Adam on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 7:04pm BST

At the end of the standard format for reporting on ordinands, the following set questions are to be included and answered:

B. Questions:
1. Has the candidate met the agreed church-wide standard as set out in the formation criteria?
2. Have the Five Guiding Principles been discussed with the candidate and has s/he indicated that s/he assents to all of them?
3. Is the candidate on track to complete assessed work satisfactorily by the projected time of ordination (IME Phase 1)?
4. Are there any issues that need to be addressed before the candidate can be recommended for ordination?
5. Is there anything else about the candidate and his/her circumstances that the bishop needs to know?
6. In the light of the report above are there any particular training needs for the next phase of development, i.e. in IME Phase 2 or CMD as appropriate?

The format comes from the Ministry Division but at the behest of the House of Bishops I would think.

Posted by: Charles Read on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 10:19pm BST

Thanks, Charles. That's very helpful.

What I can't locate right now is the place in some GS numbered synodical document where it was stated that this assent would be sought of ordinands. Maybe someone else can remember where it is?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 10:30pm BST

From a Word document off the Church of England website--and I'm copying in the principles so that we can all remind ourselves what they say and do not say:

The House of Bishops has therefore agreed Five Guiding Principles as the basis for this mutual flourishing. From January 2015, all candidates coming to a BAP are required to give their assent to all of the Five Guiding Principles. The House of Bishops confirm that the Principles need to be read 'one with the other and held in tension, rather than being applied selectively.' The Five Guiding Principles 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.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 10:54pm BST

I don't think that this assent (for ordinands) was brought to General Synod. The following note dated Nov 2014 indicated it came directly from Ministry Division, and so, we might guess, from the Bishops:

"Ministry Division

Guidance Notes for DDOs, Bishops’ Advisers and Principals of TEIs on Handling the Five Guiding Principles in the Diocesan Discernment Process, at Selection and Prior to Ordination.

At its meeting in September 2014, the Ministry Council approved a proposal to require all candidates coming to BAPs and at the end of their training to indicate their assent to the Five Guiding Principles; and it also approved that assent to the Five Guiding Principles become an additional core element of Criterion B (Ministry within the Church of England) in the Selection Criteria and become an additional core element of Criterion G (Vocation and Ministry within the Church of England) in the Formation Criteria. The proposal will be going to the House of Bishops for approval in December 2014."

One of the recent comments that, in my eyes, is significant, is the letter published just over a week ago from the Dean of York Dr Paula Gooder and Mrs Margaret Swinson in the Church Times. Significant as they were closely involved in the discussions that resulted in the legislation. , pointing out that that Guiding Principles are no more and no less than this - principles for guidance. One key aspect of working out the legislation of which these we a part is that it included men, women, laity and clergy and not all bishops! Traditionalists were also included, and given good proportional representation. But as they are principles they need continual working on and with, both practical and theological. The Independent Reviewer cannot be expected to do all this himself. WE have to hope that the bishops will also not take it upon themselves to make an "ex cathedra" interpretation, but rather encourage some deeper exploration of what is involved - as can be seen from the amount of posting on these threads. the emotions are very deep for many people and there isn;'ta simple solution, nor a simple "right answer".

Posted by: RosalindR on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 11:18pm BST

Yes it's in a note from Ministry Division titled "Guidance Notes for DDOs, Bishops’ Advisers and Principals of TEIs on Handling the Five Guiding Principles in the Diocesan Discernment Process, at Selection and Prior to Ordination" dated November 2014. A somewhat obscure reference, but all DDOs will be very familiar. Was never a GS Misc document.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Monday, 27 March 2017 at 11:19pm BST

The requirement for all ordinands to assent to the Five Guiding Principles is news to me but reminds me of nothing more than Dr. Carey's fireside chats with potential candidates for the episcopacy having to assent to "Issues in Human Sexuality" which, as I recall, cost Rowan Williams the Bishoprick of Southwark when he refused to agree.
Is it still valid if the ordinands cross their fingers behind their backs while assenting or do the Big Brothers in Lambeth and Bishopthorpe require the ordinands to make the assent with one hand on the Holy Bible? I think we should be told.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 6:55am BST

The only Synodic reference to the Guiding Principles seems to be within GS 1076.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 8:48am BST

Adam: YMC ordinands will have had to sign their report which includes the wording quoted above so I cannot see how they will not have heard of the 5GPs.

No oaths on Bibles - just a signature I am afraid Fr. David!

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 10:26am BST

The URL for that document Anthony is
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2128751/guidance%20-%20five%20principles.doc
In it Stephen Ferns writes (as Rosalind has already noted above):

At its meeting in September 2014, the Ministry Council approved a proposal to require all candidates coming to BAPs and at the end of their training to indicate their assent to the Five Guiding Principles; and it also approved that assent to the Five Guiding Principles become an additional core element of Criterion B (Ministry within the Church of England) in the Selection Criteria and become an additional core element of Criterion G (Vocation and Ministry within the Church of England) in the Formation Criteria. The proposal will be going to the House of Bishops for approval in December 2014.

So the "minutes" of the HoB may be where I read a reference to it.

But in fact, it is not mentioned in that document GS Misc 1102.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 10:39am BST

I have just sent off BAP sponsoring forms for two women and a man having checked with them they had read and supported the Principles. But in the light of Sheffield I have never been more aware that this asks something of ordained women that an ordained man will never have to face let alone assent to. It no longer feels 'mutual' in any plain meaning of the word. In all honesty until this is properly reviewed I will feel very uncomfortable having to ask this of any candidates - especially this two are women.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 10:50am BST

The Independent Reviewer set out in a consultation document how he would approach matters referred to him. http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2015/06/10/cofe-a-quasi-consultation-on-quasi-law/

Paragraph 27 is interesting:

"Anyone seeking to raise a concern will be expected to provide details of the precise nature of the concern raised and of the specific acts or omissions under the House of Bishops’ Declaration which have given rise to it. General expressions of unease will not suffice. To be capable of consideration by the Independent Reviewer, an expression of concern, like a grievance, must be founded upon hard evidence. And as with a grievance, that evidence must be capable of being shared with the other parties concerned."

It seems to me that the archbishops have submitted a "general expression of concern" and not identified "specific acts or omissions under the Bishops' Declaration" so their application should "not suffice". While the Independent Reviewer will inevitably (perhaps wrongly?) give the archbishops more latitude than he would grant others, it does focus on quite what it is he is asked to review. In item d), the archbishops ask him to consider the reaction of people outside the church. I am struggling to see what mandate he has to do that? It is certainly going to be interesting to see whether the Independent Reviewer thinks that the concern is adequately set out or whether he seeks clarification.

This starts a thought train. What acts is it that "concern" the archbishops? Is it Dr Percy's academic analysis? Is it those who question how theologically it could work? Is it criticism of the Society? Is it those who express concern that at his consecration Philip North gave the impression that he also rejects the orders of some male bishops?

I haven't read any analysis of these sorts of points and would be interested to do so.

It is also questionable whether the confidentiality of the nomination process allows the Independent Reviewer to make much progress with the archbishops' b). The archbishops might also regret opening up to scrutiny "the consistency of [Bishop Philip's] nomination with the Declaration". Doesn't that mean that they have accepted the principle that nominations for episcopal office are subject to review? Doesn't that mean for instance that a rejected candidate could in future seek review? Can't Jeffrey John point to the archbishops' letter and suggest that it would likewise be reasonable for there to be able external review of the election for Llandaff? (I know it is a different province but there is still some sort of analogy.) The archbishops might be opening a very large can of worms.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 11:28am BST

Like Kate I find myself quite puzzled by what the archbishops are doing.

Unless we think of it as a very political maneuver--being seen to throw traditionalists a bone.

Or is an unexpected Moses being sent up the holy mountain? Although why his understanding of what "mutual flourishing" means should be privileged over everyone else's is a bit of a puzzle.

As para 27 suggests, judges need actual cases. So Perhaps the Independent Reviewer will confine himself to the Sheffield facts.

Another possible reason for this very public reference to the IR may be that the Archbishops' own conduct in the Sheffield episode is in question, in ways that the public might not yet know. It seems at least possible that members of the CNC might feel that too heavy an archiepiscopal hand was at work. This does raise the CNC-confidentiality question, as suggested above.

Lastly, it is possible that others may have already raised concerns about Sheffield with the IR, and that the archbishops are trying to get in front of this review and make it look like a parade. That way the illusions of wisdom, authority, and control are preserved--at least for a time.

When does Abp. Sentamu retire?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 12:02pm BST

I'm quite surprised that a major development, like making assent to the 5 Guiding Principles a condition of ordination, can be decided by the Ministry Council. Surely this should be subject to a vote by General Synod?

And is it true that clergy moving job also have to assent to them?

Posted by: Janet Fife on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 12:09pm BST

I’m very interested in the way the five guiding principles are going to affect the generation of ordinands who had to assent to them. Their attitudes and ministry are going to shape the Church of England of the future. If recommended and ordained they will rightly feel that their interpretation of them is correct. (Assuming candidates feel the principles carry any kind of weight).
The required discussion with candidates puts Bishops’ Advisors, DDOs and staff at TEIs in control. They must have something in mind that constitutes an understanding and articulation of the mutual flourishing to which the principles (try to) point. I believe its these people, not the Independent Review or General Synod, who can tell us what, if anything, the principles mean.

Posted by: Stephen Griffiths on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 12:32pm BST

Jeremy: I believe that the archbishop of York is scheduled to retire by 10 June 2019 (his seventieth birthday), but he is entitled to a one year extension under Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975, which states:

“Where Her Majesty considers that there are special circumstances which make it desirable that a person holding the office of archbishop should continue in that office after the date on which he would otherwise retire in accordance with the foregoing section, She may authorise the continuance in office of that person after that date for such period, not exceeding one year, as She may in her discretion determine.”

I am not aware of an instance where Section 2 has been applied (save that Donald Coggan retired several months after turning 70), but suspect that others, who are better informed in relation to these matters, will be able to correct me.

Posted by: Froghole on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 12:55pm BST

Thanks, Froghole.

To quibble slightly, based on the text you quote: I read it to mean that the Archbishop is not "entitled" to such an extension, but rather that he is eligible to be granted one.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 2:07pm BST

In all the comments I've seen no criticism for the dozens of foul vindictive letters sent to Bishop Philip. Even though you may not agree with his theology there is no excuse for such behaviour. He is a thoroughly decent man who doesn't deserve personal attacks of this nature.

Posted by: henry dee on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 3:38pm BST

Jeremy: Many thanks. You are, of course, entirely correct. The question is how any extension would work in practice and who would determine whether and how it should apply. I suppose it would only ever come into effect where the CNC was incapable of making a decision before Dr Sentamu retires; on recent form that is a real risk... Would there be informal soundings between the Palace, Bishopthorpe, Lambeth and Church House, etc.? Or would there be a more formal reference to the CNC to sanction the extension? Who knows?! Looking at Hansard, I cannot see that Section 2 was discussed in either chamber (the Measure passed with scant comment). If any transcripts of the debates in Synod are available they might cast some light on how it was intended Section 2 would work.

However, I must also quibble with myself. If I recall, Donald Coggan was translated from York to Canterbury before the 1975 Measure received royal assent (assent was given on 1 August 1975; his appointment to Canterbury was announced on 31 May 1974 and he was enthroned on 24 January 1975). Section 1 (4) (d) and the Schedule to the 1975 Measure states that the age limit is not to apply to office holders in post prior to the Measure coming into effect as, I think, is well known. Therefore, Dr Coggan – my own personal favourite amongst recent English archbishops – need not have retired when he did, in January 1980.

So, on that basis, I am not certain that there has yet been any instance where Section 2 of the Measure has been invoked.

Posted by: Froghole on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 4:02pm BST

Nigel Mcculloch stayed on after 70... to finish chairing a working party on women bishops!

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 5:10pm BST

Thanks again, Froghole, for this research.

I cannot escape the suspicion that one function of the Independent Reviewer, inadvertent on his part, may be to wrap embarrassing episodes up in cloaks of confidentiality that protect senior leaders.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 6:08pm BST

Nigel Mcculloch stayed on after 70

But the quotation from Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975 cited by Froghole seems to apply only to Archbishops.
Is there a separate clause of that measure applying to Bishops, such as +McCulloch?

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 7:33pm BST

All in-force Measures are online.

Section 3 is the relevant piece of this one.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/1975/2/section/3

"the archbishop or bishop, as the case may be, may from time to time authorise the continuance in that office of that person after that date for such period or further period, not exceeding one year in all, as he may specify. [except that a diocesan bishop may exercise his powers under this subsection in relation to a suffragan bishop only after consultation with the archbishop of the province.]"

For a diocesan bishop it's the archbishop who authorizes this. For a suffragan it's the diocesan after consultation with (but not necessarily the agreement of) the archbishop.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 8:31pm BST

'In all the comments I've seen no criticism for the dozens of foul vindictive letters sent to Bishop Philip. Even though you may not agree with his theology there is no excuse for such behaviour. He is a thoroughly decent man who doesn't deserve personal attacks of this nature.'

I hadn't previously heard that Bp. Philip has had poison pen letters - that is appalling and utterly wrong. No wonder he said that the personal nature of some of the attacks has been 'hard to bear'. I've had some such letters myself and they do shake you up.

If these nasty letters haven't previously been condemned on TA, it may well be because other people also didn't know Bp. Philip had had them. I haven't read nasty comments about Bp. Philip anywhere, and I've been following this story pretty closely.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 8:41pm BST

Henry Dee you have obviously come to this discussion quite late. If you read back through these threads you will be reassured. Nowhere is the bishop personally attacked. Such attacks repeatedly condemned. The concern focuses on the urgent need for a more clearly thought out theology.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 9:46pm BST

"I've seen no criticism for the dozens of foul vindictive letters...."

Please do not try to tar us all with this brush. The only people responsible for any such letters would be the people who wrote them.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at 10:13pm BST

Both s2 and s3 are suspect. Since 1975 age discrimination legislation has come in (from what I recall based upon a European Directive) and it is now generally unlawful to require someone to retire at a set age. The Church of England has carve outside for sex, sexual orientation, marital status and gender reassignment but not age. The question is then whether the archbishop is an office holder but, at least, as an ex-officio Lord Spiritual probably is. Bishop John might have no intention to continue after 70 but he might be entitled to (not just eligible) as a result of equality legislation.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 at 1:31am BST

"If these nasty letters haven't previously been condemned on TA, it may well be because other people also didn't know Bp. Philip had had them. I haven't read nasty comments about Bp. Philip anywhere, and I've been following this story pretty closely."

And indeed many of us who feel it was inappropriate for Bishop Philip to become the Bishop of Sheffield also very much see him as a victim too. The Church clearly let Philip down very badly.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 at 2:24am BST

In response to a number of above posts about extending the compulsory retirement ago for bishops and archbishops by up to a year, the law is to change shortly for all ecclesiastical office holders (other than archbishops) who hold office under Common Tenure.

Under the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 [SI 2017 No. 316], agreed by General Synod on 14 February 2017, made on 7 March 2017 and coming into force on 1 July 2017, an archbishop may give a direction in writing to allow a diocesan bishop in his province who has attained the age of 70 to continue to hold that office for the period specified in the direction, but not beyond the date on which the bishop attains the age of 75.

Similar provisions allow a diocesan bishop to extend the term of office of a suffragan bishop, dean, residentiary canon, or archdeacon in his diocese, again subject to an upper limit of 75 years.

For incumbents or priests holding the bishop's licence there is also similar provision, but with three important differences: (a) there is no 75 upper age limit; (b) the bishop cannot give a direction in respect of an incumbent or priest-in-charge, or a vicar in a team ministry, or an assistant curate, unless (i) he/she considers that the pastoral needs of the parish(es) concerned make it 'desirable' to give the direction, and (ii) the PCC(s) of the parish(es) concerned consent; (c) unlike the position with bishops, deans, residential canons and archdeacons, a bishop can give a direction allowing a person, already aged 70 or over, to take up a new position as an incumbent etc (as opposed to being allowed to continue in an existing post beyond that age.) [The requirement for the bishop to consider pastoral needs and obtain PCC consent was added by amendment at General Synod on 14th Feb 2017.]

There is an overriding requirement for the archbishop or bishop to consider that the person in question will "be capable of performing the duties of the office throughout the period for which the person is to hold the office." The archbishop/bishop is also required "to have regard to any guidance issued by the Archbishops' Council" (I am not aware of any such guidance having been issued yet - hence, perhaps, the 1st July commencement date.)

Two further points to note / comments: (1) The 2017 amendment regulations do NOT allow any extension to the term of office of an archbishop, which will continue to be governed by section 2 of the 1975 Measure; and (2) Perhaps the Ministry of Justice could take a leaf out of the C of E's book and make provision to allow judges to serve beyond the age of 70 (subject to being satisfied of their capability to do so) - especially since the upper age limit for jury service was raised fom 70 to 75 with effect from 1 December 2016.

Posted by: David Lamming on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 at 2:14pm BST

" I remain staggered at the lengths to which some of those Christians were prepared to go in order to ensure Bishop Philip stepped down. It was mob rule of the worst kind, and it is to be hoped it will be corrected by the findings of Sir Philip Mawer."

Posted by: Benedict on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at 11:09am GMT

Was it real 'Mob Rule' that forced Bishop North to step back from the selection process?

Or was it perhaps the fact that his conscience - as a member of 'The society' that cannot, in all conscience, recognise the validity of women in priestly ministry - could no longer allow him to pretend that his women clergy were not really priests?

(n.b. my own conscience, also, could not allow for such a contradiction of principle - being, myself, a believer in the ontological call of women into priesthood in the Anglican Church)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 March 2017 at 12:30am BST

"Or was it perhaps the fact that his conscience - as a member of 'The society' that cannot, in all conscience, recognise the validity of women in priestly ministry - could no longer allow him to pretend that his women clergy were not really priests?"

Or maybe he was told that there might be some objections raised to his appointment but not to worry as Bishopthorpe would support him through them, then he discovered that he was on his own? We don't know what his reasons were.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 30 March 2017 at 11:02am BST

I would suggest that people drink to conscience as blessed John Henry Newman suggested and refrain from commenting on the conscience of people they do not know.

Posted by: Peter Bostock on Friday, 31 March 2017 at 2:56pm BST
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