Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Lessons learned from the Mawer report on the See of Sheffield

Updated Friday

press release from the Archbishops’ Council
Lessons for the National Church Institutions following Independent Reviewer’s report on Sheffield

Following the publication of Sir Philip Mawer’s independent review into the nomination to the See of Sheffield, William Nye, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, has published a ‘lessons learned’ review in response to Sir Philip’s fourth recommendation.

He said: “I would like to add my thanks to that of the Archbishops to Sir Philip for his review, and in particular for suggesting that I review the lessons to be learned for the National Church Institutions from the handling of the process after Bishop Philip North’s nomination.

“Having done this, I hope that my suggestions for a way forward will ensure that those nominated to a see, as well as the dioceses in question, will be better supported by the National Church Institutions both before and after the announcement.

“We have already put this learning into practice and have reaped the benefit of this in the announcement of the new Bishop of London last December and the new Bishop of Bristol in May.

“We will continue to learn from each nomination, keeping to our commitment to mutual flourishing in every process.”

The full text of the review is available here.

Notes

Sir Philip’s report can be found here.

The House of Bishops response to Sir Philip’s report can be found here.

Update

Forward in Faith has issued this press release: Nomination to the See of Sheffield: Lessons Learned

…Like Mr Nye, we look forward to news of the progress of the Implementation and Dialogue Group in carrying out its task of remedying this lack of education about the Five Guiding Principles and the 2014 settlement more generally. We hope that, when the next traditional catholic is nominated to a diocesan see, the fruit of its work will be seen in much more generous responses within and beyond the diocese concerned.

The House of Bishops’ Declaration also said, ‘It will be important that senior leadership roles within dioceses continue to be filled by people from across the range of traditions.’ The non-implementation of this commitment over the last four years suggests that educational work might usefully begin within the House of Bishops itself.

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Comments

The report states, "...many of those in Church House...were not aware of the scale of negative reactions in some parts of Sheffield Diocese.' Having just celebrated the 100th anniversary of women being given the vote with friends form Sheffield and Manchester, I've reflected that it was very ostrich-like of the CNC to think that a city with a proud history of feisty, radical political leadership by women would be a good place to locate a traditionalist diocesan bishop. This report deals only with internal mechanisms for better communication. What about better mechanisms for listening to local voices beyond the church? You only have to look at the current make-up of elected councillors and MPs to realise there might be some serious dissonance. The report also demonstrates the difficulty of too much executive responsibility being controlled from London. If I had to name one city in the UK where I think it would not work to have such a bishop it would be Sheffield! And you don't really need the Mawer Report to tell you that!

Posted by: Janet Henderson on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 at 1:39pm BST

I think Blackburn diocese is an even bigger winner than London or Bristol.

Posted by: Peter Bostock on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 at 3:14pm BST

As I read it, Nye is saying that there was nothing wrong with the selection of Philip North for Sheffield and everything would have worked out with better planning and communication. Please, please tell me I am wrong.

And can someone explain why the overwhelming majority of those Nye chose to consult were men?

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 at 5:04pm BST

"It is clear", says William Nye in his report, "that the main issue identified is a lack of joined-up planning and communication both pre- and post-announcement. " Really? For those who objected to Bishop North's appointment, the main issue was surely the intellectual and ethical incoherence of the five principles, as the protesters made clear. Better communications aren't going to solve this. And Nye's concluding proposal to form a group "to support the candidate through the announcement and any ongoing issues" suggests the only real hurt done was to Bishop North. No mention here of the need to support anyone else.

I know this kind of report is predictable. What else would one expect from the ecclesiastical establishment? But it still makes for tedious and blinkered reading.

Posted by: Revd Dr Charles Clapham on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 at 8:46pm BST

Nye is saying that the problem is that the Five Guiding Principals aren't properly understood. In reality, it is completely unclear how women clergy, women, and girls would flourish with a non-ordaining diocesan.

Further, the Mawer Report, from which these recommendations are gleaned, completely lacks credibility because it seriously lacks equal input from women. It boggles the mind that WO and WB exist because women are equally created in the image of God, but they don't have to be included in matters that concern them! How patriarchal.

These recommendations are basically a lesson in how to ram unwanted non-ordaining bishops down women's throats in order to keep an unjust peace with a minority. This is a formula for further misery.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 at 11:47pm BST

The Mawer report is fatally flawed as it does not hear women’s voices so this response to it is likewise flawed. We have learned nothing.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 at 12:10am BST

I agree with Charles and Charles. This is still men talking to men with the assumptions and blind spots of a traditionally male institution. The assumption has too easily been made that somehow we have now sorted all the issues with ordination and consecration of women and the debate has moved on to other more pressing issues. But Sheffield and the continued reporting style in papers like this make it very clear we are nowhere near yet ....

Posted by: David Runcorn on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 at 9:39am BST

The real lesson to be learned from this story is that every diocesan vacancy-in-see committee, when called to meet, has to consider whether or not they want to make it explicitly and abundantly clear that the person nominated to that See must be ready and willing and able to ordain women as well as men to the diaconate and to the presbyterate.

(They might also say that they expect the nominee to be ready, willing and able to ordain women as well as men to the episcopate, but unless the See is Canterbury or York that might possibly be considered to be outside their competence.)

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 at 3:09pm BST

I think Simon Kershaw is right up to a point. But even if a vacancy-in-see committee expresses the view that they would be willing to accept a diocesan bishop who does not ordain women to the priesthood, there is no guarantee that a decision like this made by a small committee would receive sufficient ownership and agreement in the wider diocese as to make it viable or workable in practice. I suspect that the real lesson from the Sheffield debacle is that it is now impossible (notwithstanding the 'five principles') to imagine a non-ordaining bishop being appointed successfully as a diocesan, whether for better (my view) or worse (in the view of plenty of others). It seems to me it would be better for the church to acknowledge this clearly, than continue with denial.

Posted by: Revd Dr Charles Clapham on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 at 4:23pm BST

I agree with Charles and Charles and I think Charles' 4.23pm comment is correct. In addition to the discrimination against women there is also the discrimination against men ordained by women bishops so that there is an increasing number of male clergy whose 'orders' will not be acceptable.

Posted by: not flourishing high church woman on Friday, 15 June 2018 at 9:40pm BST

"In addition to the discrimination against women there is also the discrimination against men ordained by women bishops so that there is an increasing number of male clergy whose 'orders' will not be acceptable."

Which really is the Donatist heresy. Aren't priests ordained and bishops consecrated wth the laying on of hands by multiple people? The idea that the participation of a woman invalidates the whole thing certainly attributes a lot of power to women!

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 17 June 2018 at 8:52pm BST
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