Comments: suffragan Bishop of Burnley

As if three AEO bishops aren't enough.

Posted by Dan BD at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 12:19pm GMT

Excellent news!

Posted by Clive Sweeting at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 12:28pm GMT

Wonderful news for the flourishing, and honoured place of traditional Catholics in the Church of England.

Posted by Jill Armstead at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 1:34pm GMT

Fr North is a very capable priest and is known for his commitment to warm working relationships with women clergy despite his personal opposition to the ordination of women. Likely to be a bishop irrespective of his views. A good contrast to the churchmanship of the Diocesan as well.

Posted by SB at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 2:08pm GMT

I take it that the see of Burnley is a non-territorial vicariate for "safe" parishes, like Fulham in London or Pontrefact in West Yorkshire?

Posted by Geoff at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 2:13pm GMT

Congratulations on the appointment. We in the diocese now have a new young bishop who with his experience of the north east (Sunderland and Hartlepool) has a knowledge of life in the north that he can bring. He has a lot of work to do and we have to pray that he receives the support of everyone in doing this.

Posted by Henry Dee at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 2:33pm GMT

This may be an excellent appointment - I don't know anything about the man.

However, in general, Linda Woodhead's recent survey shows that the bishops in the Church of England are considerably more conservative than the clergy as a whole, and even more so than the clergy who are of their age.

Perhaps this should be considered as future bishops are selected. Hopefully, the influx of women to the episcopate may help to rectify this.

The cliche of liberal bishops ruling the church, seems to be a mirage.

Posted by Iain Baxter at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 3:23pm GMT

Thank you TA for making my day, excellent news. Well done Bishop Julian for making this first rate appointment. Let's hope that no Churchwarden in the Blackburn diocese decides to start up a petition against this inspired appointment and that Father Philip is at last consecrated to the episcopacy.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 4:52pm GMT

A superb appointment. I have worked with him and can testify to his loyal support and friendship towards women priests. A great preacher and evangelist.

Posted by Revd Vanessa Baron at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 5:50pm GMT

I am full of hope and thanks for this appointment.

Posted by Steven at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 6:10pm GMT

As a woman incumbent in the Diocese of Blackburn I am very unsettled by the news of this appointment. Just how can someone who doesn't see me as having a priestly ministry give episcopal oversight of my priestly ministry?

Posted by Nancy Goodrich at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 6:38pm GMT

Very good news for the Diocese of Blackburn, the Clergy and People of the Burnley Episcopal Area, Forward in Faith, the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and the whole of the Church of England.

Fr Philip North is a faithful and wise priest; who will be a huge asset to the life and growth of the Diocese of Blackburn.

I had hoped that he would succeed +Peter Edmonton but oh well... I agree with and would like to reiterate the Bishop of London's comment by saying I shall miss Fr Philip North and his ministry in the Diocese of London immensely but I look forward to supporting his ministry within the wider church now

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Friday, 7 November 2014 at 9:29pm GMT

I want to express my support for Nancy Goodrich - a lone voice so far in these responses; however wonderful PN is, there is for me a bit of a fatal flaw where the ordination of women is concerned - this may be my problem, but, as an admittedly distant observer, I can't feel totally enthusiastic about the appointment.

Posted by peter kettle at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 10:16am GMT

Good news. Blackburn Diocese needed a Trad Cath to complement the pro-women Evos. Philip is excellent. We shall miss him from London.

The Edmonton process has started - and we shall hope to have an appointment mid-2015, with a consecration date next September.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 10:47am GMT

I'm afraid that I have to offer a dissenting voice from Nancy and Peter.

Fr North's own personal charisma aside, to not receive the ministry of (as oppose to deny the existence of) women in orders is a valid option for Anglicans, indeed it is the default position of the Church of the East and the West, including the doctrine of the Prayerbook and the Articles.

Thankfully, in our church we have two integrities, and the ministry of women in the Church of England has been a resounding success.

However, if we say that conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are allowed to serve, as long as they keep their theological 'opinions' quiet, then we have a real problem.

May I remind readers of section 15 of the House of Bishops declaration?

"15. Equal treatment, for example in relation to resource issues and the discerning of
vocations to the ordained ministry, is essential irrespective of convictions in relation to gender and ministry. In discerning vocations bishops will continue not to
discriminate on the grounds of a candidate’s theological conviction on this issue."

Posted by Tristan at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 12:48pm GMT

As a male incumbent in the Blackburn Diocese, who incidentally supports the ordination of women, I am dismayed at Nancy's position. We live in a world where views are different and we have to work with others regardless of this. We can't all have the privilege of working with only those with whom we agree. In the words of ++Welby: "Reconciliation is about dis-agreeing well". Generosity and openness is what is needed and certainly to the news of Fr Philip's appointment, more so perhaps when we hear the plaudits he receives,not least from women.

Posted by Andrew Malcolm at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 12:57pm GMT

No one is questioning that Fr North is a Godly and exceptional priest and leader. But I also wish to express my support and concern for Nancy Goodrich and other ordained women in Blackburn Diocese. It must feel very, very difficult. No ordained man can know what this feels like. The 'two integrities' approach has actually only ever attended to needs and conscience of one.

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 3:18pm GMT

Since the new legislation has been passed, we are now under a new dispensation, and thankfully Father Philip's appointment is evidence, hopefully, of Christian reconciliation at work and an end to the old battles of the past. Whilst Nancy Goodrich's point is understandable, this is where we are now, and the Church of England has recognised that one cannot ride roughshod over the conscience of individuals. The circle seems, miraculously, to have been squared, so let's move on and leave behind the old arguments of the past and get on with the mission of the Church.

Posted by Benedict at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 4:18pm GMT

I would like to support Nancy Goodrich's question.

I don't know the man. But if he is philosophically opposed to women priests, then I am curious to learn how he will handle his new position.

Sometimes new authority goes to people's heads, and they reveal new colours in new roles.

Even if that doesn't happen, there surely will be some cognitive dissonance--as there must be now, for other bishops who deny the validity of women priests.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 10:52pm GMT

Nancy has said she feels "unsettled". This is a reality and others may share it. She has not said Fr Philip North should not be appointed as a bishop (and I too respect and value what I have seen of him) but the Bishops' Declaration cannot remove the reality of how she feels. It is sad that others seem to feel they should make comments that challenge her right to express this. I believe we need to be able to recognise and express our feelings about the tensions that still remain in the settlement, to be able to live and work together with integrity and mutual respect.

Posted by Rosalind R at Saturday, 8 November 2014 at 10:59pm GMT

I think I would like to see an answer to Nancy Goodrich's not unreasonable question.

If the answer is that the new Bishop will behave towards her, in every respect, as though he believed her ministry as a priest to be valid - whilst at the same time believing it not to be! - then I can't see any real problem. If, however, he cannot or will not, then what will the practical consequences of that be?

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 10:54am GMT

My first posting here did not appear - so I am offering it another way.
I am genuinely grateful to Fr North for his gifts and willingness to serve in this way - not least in a church that he has deep disagreements with.
I am also grateful for the continued graciousness and willingness of priests like Nancy who, as a woman, will continue to serve under episcopal leadership that does not believe her orders are valid. As an ordained man I will ever know what that feels like or what it costs.

ED: your first posting went into the Spam box, though I have no idea why. I have retrieved it and published it, as well as publishing this one.

Posted by David Runcorn at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 1:05pm GMT

Back in 2009, Blackburn Cathedral needed persuasion, to abolish the practice of offering wafers previously blessed by a male priest, when a woman priest was presiding.

In 2014 ++Welby chose to deacon for the celebrant at the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral celebrating 20 years of women’s ministry.

Presumably the bright new suffragan bishop of Burnley will have noted the ongoing change in attitudes in those five short years and will use his gifts accordingly.

Posted by Paul Edelin at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 4:06pm GMT

sorry my first post appeared after all! ... I think I say it better in my second ... and others are saying the same thing -better perhaps.

Posted by David Runcorn at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 6:02pm GMT

To answer Geoff's query:

Burnley is a normal suffragan see in the Blackburn diocese, in the same way that Pontefract used to be in the former Wakefield diocese. So no, it is not a non-territorial vicariate like Fulham, and neither was Pontefract.

In the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, the see of Pontefract has been changed. There are now Area Bishops with definite territorial boundaries *within* the wider diocese. There is a proposal about to be discussed at a diocesan synod to rename the see as Wakefield. The area is essentially the eastern half of the old diocese.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 6:05pm GMT

Benedict, your comment sounds rather close to saying to Nancy - shut up, stop whingeing and go away. I'm sure you didn't mean to give that impression.

After many years, the CofE has not only affirmed in principle but also in practice the full integrity of women's ordained and sacramental ministry. There is a let out clause, as it were, for those who 'in conscience' cannot accept this, but that does not take away at all from the full integration of women within the church's ministry at all levels, and shortly within the legislature.

I agree with David Runcorn that it is not really possible for an ordained man to fully enter into the experience of a woman in having her ministry questioned by her colleagues. I have seen it first hand with women colleagues and it challenges their sense of vocation and their own understanding of who they are. When a person is put in authority over a woman priest and who is on record that they do not accept women's ordained ministry, the sense of isolation and rejection comes very close. Please remember that women priests have been subject to the same discernment processes as men for their vocation, they have done the same preparation and training, they have been through the same appointment processes. They now have every right to expect that their ministry in the Church of England will be fully affirmed by those who are responsible for their oversight.

If the new bishop elect is as pastorally gifted as people are saying, he will very quickly move to re-assure his potential clergy that he will, without equivocation, give just that affirmation.

Posted by Roger Antell at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 6:34pm GMT

Here's a positive view of the appointment:

I'm pretty much in agreement with this view.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 6:58pm GMT

I would also agree with Sammy Morse's view, at least on a theoretical level. But that should not mean that women priests directly affected by being placed under the care of a bishop who does not recognise their ministry as valid should not be allowed to say it.

Yes, we have an agreement, but that does not mean that we can't also point out that some people pay a price for it.

And while I would not expect a woman priest to be constantly complaining that her bishop is a conservative Anglo-Catholic, it is perfectly acceptable to mention that discomfort in a thread where his appointment seems to be warmly welcomed by everyone else.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 7:18pm GMT

This is the deal we brokered. The five principles of the House of Bishops
are clear about where we stand. It is of course uncomfortable, particularly for ordained women who feel their ministry is still being called into question. But it's what we said we'd do. And Blackburn as a Diocese has changed - what was a majority view among the bishops is now a minority view. In London, we have the same debate - perhaps more pointedly because there is a formal Area Scheme in place. But nobody can doubt our desire to make the new legislation work for all.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 8:23pm GMT

“I wanted to have an episcopal colleague who is from the traditionalist catholic constituency and Philip fulfils that role well. He comes to serve the whole Diocese. He will also have particular care for those people who cannot accept the ministry of women as Bishops and Priests in the Church — and he will have my wholehearted support in carrying out this important work.”

The mind of the church on ordaining women to the threefold orders of ministry is now settled and next week that will be a legal reality. The problem with this appointment (leaving aside the undoubted gifts and qualities of Father North) is that consecrating a non-ordaining bishop to serve within the diocesan structures enshrines an impossible conflict: the task of serving the whole diocese with the special role of caring for those who cannot accept the ministry of women. We must assume that there has been widespread consultation on the appointment throughout the diocese of Blackburn and that there will not therefore be a repeat of Whitby. I sense that the diocese can accommodate an appointment of this type, but I have to believe two things: +Warner will be the last non-ordaining diocesan bishop and in future (with the possible exception of London) there will be no future appointments of non-ordaining suffragan bishops. That is the continuing role of the PEVs and if necessary let's appoint some additional ones, including one who is a conservative evangelical.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 10:25pm GMT

A vital appointment to show that the Church of England is not following the road of the Australian Church in intimidating and abusing those who do not hold a "liberal" view.
The Bp of Blackburn is a courageous bishop of the Church of God and not frightened by the diversity of the Church.

Posted by Distant at Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 10:31pm GMT

Thank you, Simon. I admit that the vagaries of English canon law are often lost on me, but is it fair to say that +Pontrefact and +Burnley are/were (informally?) designated to minister to parishes in their dioceses in a way similar to the Bishop of Fulham? This paper [ ] seems to suggest this was so at least in Wakefield's case.

In the US, Dallas and Fort Worth used to work something like that: they too both remained geographically-defined entities, but by friendly agreement cooperated in such a way that the bishop of Dallas cared for parishes in DFW who invited women celebrants and +Fort Worth those who did not.

Posted by Geoff at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 4:42am GMT

Can I add my voice to the support for Nancy Goodrich.

In many postings on this thread people have said that Philip North's appointment has made them feel happy and joyful. If it is acceptable to express emotion on this website, then surely Nancy has an equal expectation that she be allowed to express how she feels unsettled.

She did not state her opposition to the appointment, but simply asked an entirely reasonable and sensible question about how her new bishop will support her, in her particular situation.

It seems to be an entirely reasonable post for the present circumstances.

Posted by Simon Dawson at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 9:17am GMT

Doesn't Nancy now have an issue with her Diocesan bishop as well in his heart felt expression of "wholehearted support" for the next Bishop of Burnley and seems to be both "happy and joyful" to have made such an inspired appointment? How did Nancy get on with the last Diocesan Bishop of Blackburn? Knowing Bishop Nicholas, I am sure that he would offer wonderful pastoral care to all minsters of religion within his former diocese, I am also sure that Bishop Philip will be similarly pastoral to all in his care and cure. Well done Bishop Julian for shewing us the way ahead whereby all may mutually flourish.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 10:15am GMT

Thank you Anthony Archer, for getting to the nub of this issue, and the unavoidable tension at the heart of the recent 'settlement'. I entirely agree with you (and have said it before in these pages) that +Chichester should be the last non-ordaining diocesan appointed, and that the PEVs (enhanced if absolutely necessary) should form the main provision for traditionalist catholics. It would be cleaner if all such provision was made through the PEVs, but I don't have a major issue with non-ordaining suffragans, provided that they do not hold devolved responsibility for defined areas of their diocese.
It is, as I understand it, to the Diocesan and not to a suffragan that a priest swears canonical obedience. Just as it would be insensitive if +Blackburn were to insist on celebrating the Eucharist in one of the traditionalist catholic parishes in his diocese, it would also be insensitive to send +Burnley to a parish with a female priest. If that can be managed satisfactorily, it might perhaps ameliorate the entirely understandable concerns expressed by Nancy Goodrich.
The appointment of the present +Blackburn was a great boon to female priests in that diocese, against which the new appointment to +Burnley may perhaps be seen as a necessary counterbalance as part of the agreed commitment to mutual flourishing.
A great test may come at Fr North's consecration, which could well be at the same time as the first woman bishop. Would that be tolerated or even encouraged?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 10:57am GMT

Malcolm, how does your suggestion that +Chichester be the last non-ordaining diocesan connect with the new spirit of mutual flourishing? If Traditionalists are truly allowed to continue to flourish then there must surely be Traditionalist Diocesan bishops appointed in future. Not to allow and consecrate such would be an invidious form of discrimination. I am sure that Bishop Philip North would, in the fullness of time, make an excellent Diocesan bishop. What a waste of talent it would be to allow one so young and so talented to languish forever as a Suffragan. Again, full marks to Bishop Julian for making such an inspirational appointment. As I understand it there wasn't a single parish in the Blackburn diocese where the last Diocesan bishop was not welcome as President of the sacred Mysteries, alas, from what I hear I don't think that currently pertains with the present Diocesan incumbent; hence how wise he is to appoint Fr. Philip with whom I am sure he will be in full communion and fellowship.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 12:47pm GMT

I have posted thus at the original article:

"It depends on the nature of Philip's disagreement with the ordination of women. The five principles on which the legislation was built are explicit that the Church of England does ordain women and so such women really are ordained. You cannot, it seems to me, be a bishop if you think they are not.

You can , however, think we should not have done this or not at this point. I am not sure I know what Philip''s reasons for not accepting the ordination of women are. If they are the former, we are in trouble because he will not accept a sizable number of his clergy as truly clergy at all. If the latter, we are OK."

I do think Nancy's comments are significant and deserve a response. Yes, maybe this is the kind of situation we have to have en route to the full acceptance of women clergy in practice as well as in theory. Philip is certainly a good priest - including being decisive in saying in General Synod what needs saying and I often agree with him. That of itself is not enough to be a bishop, especially if we want bishops to be a focus of unity.

And David Runcorn's comments are perhaps the most telling - we men cannot possible truly know how it feels to be a woman priest. There might be lots of people who think I am reprehensible, incompetent, should never have held the posts of responsibility I have held (and do hold) etc. but no-one thinks I am not really ordained, even if they think I should not have been!

Posted by Charles Read at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 1:02pm GMT

May I suggest that the Church of England allows priests whose bishop(s) do not recognise the validity of the Orders of women the same privileges as it does to priests who cannot accept a bishop who does recognise the validity of the Orders of women? They should be allowed an alternative episcopal oversight, a bishop who shares their theological integrity.

Posted by Commentator at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 2:34pm GMT

I think that +Chichester probably will be the last traditionalist to be appointed as a Diocesan bishop; once we have women in the episcopate it will be very difficult, but not impossible, to promote a suffragan bishop like Fr Philip North to a vacant Diocesan See. However, I think that we will continue to see a few traditional Anglo-Catholics being appointed to Suffragan Sees, it is possible that the new suffragan Bishop of Plymouth (Exeter Diocese)will be a Anglo-Catholic who will not ordain women to the priesthood. Such an appointment would be most welcome to those of us in Cornwall (Truro) who benefited from the ministry of Bishop John Ford, before he went to the Diocese of the Murray in South Australia.

Posted by Mark Mesley at Monday, 10 November 2014 at 2:37pm GMT

We have had this debate before, Father David, more than once in earlier threads. In this case, however, the suggestion that no further non-ordaining bishops be appointed as diocesans came from Anthony Archer, and I was only agreeing with him. Anthony went further by suggesting that non-ordainers should not be appointed as suffragans either, so perhaps Anthony should answer your question?
My own answer is that it clearly would not contribute to the flourishing of traditionalists, any more than requiring women priests to swear obedience to a bishop who does not believe their orders to be valid contributes to their flourishing, and therein lies the problem.
Women priests have had to endure this insult, this undermining of their priestly status for the last 20 years, and enough is enough. It is simply too much to ask, especially in the light of the new settlement and the five principles at its heart.
You are sure that +Blackburn would be in full communion with Fr. North, but would Fr North be in full and unimpaired communion with him? From the evidence of the other traditionalists that I know, I doubt it.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 10:38am GMT

We can't all have the privilege of working with only those with whom we agree.'

BUT Forward in Faith and other anti-OW people DO expect to have this very privilege.

Women priests should not have to serve under bishops who do not believe in them.

To expect women to submit to such bishops is inhumane.

All this talk suddenly of 'two integrities' ?

Please it does not stand up to (much) scrutiny on the ground, any more than vis-a-vis lgbt folk.

Does it ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 2:56pm GMT

Thank you Malcolm for your most recent considered contribution. As you suggest, I look forward to Anthony's response seeking to justify why Traditionalists should be discriminated against in our mutual flourishing by being prevented and barred from becoming Diocesan bishops.
I would be astonished if the bishops of Blackburn and Burnley were not to receive the Blessed Sacrament from one another, even though they differ significantly in their understanding on the ordination of women to the priesthood and the consecration of women to the episcopacy.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 6:59pm GMT

Father David This discussion is not about men managing to agree or break bread together. No one is questioning their orders. But what does the blessed sacrament mean and express in this context? And might breaking bread be actually a dishonouring act of exclusion within the whole body of Christ? Once again this debate continues as if women do not exist or matter. As Laurie points out only one integrity has received energy and attention in all this time. We men continue to be very good at looking out for each other.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 7:06am GMT

Mark Mesley: Please feel free to write to Bishop Robert with your views about +John Ford's successor.

We need more individuals like yourself to stand up and testify about how the working relationship between a Bishop who doesn't ordain women and those in support of women's ministry including female clergy has worked in their own Diocese/Area.

We tend to forget the pastoral qualities individuals bring to the role of a Bishop and bog ourselves down about the theological convictions of the individuals... Theological Conviction is only one segment of an individual and doesn't make up their whole being.

I am very thankful for the appointment of Fr Philip to Burnley and I think they should be very grateful to be gaining such a wise and sympathetic priest; who has supported all individuals in their ministry within God's Church... They should thank God for Fr Philip, as they could have got a lot worse.

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 3:57pm GMT

Let's be really clear: the official position of the Church of England is that Diocesan Bishoprics are open to both those who are in favour of the ordination of women and those who are opposed. That is not going to change. Its part of the church's commitment to mutual flourishing. Personally I look forward to the appointment to Diocesan roles, over time, of traditionalists (Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals) who will add breadth and balance to the House of Bishops.

Posted by Erasmus at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 8:36am GMT

Good to have that reassurance Erasmus but time will tell whether or not this assertion bears fruit and Traditionalists continue to be appointed as Diocesan bishops, here's hoping it may be so.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 12:12pm GMT

Thank you, Erasmus, for your very clear exposition of 'the official position of the Church of England'. But pray, do tell us, where is this position so clearly stated? If you are indeed as learned as your nom-de-plume implies, then you may well be right, but I, doubting Thomas as I am, would still like to know the source.
Anthony Archer, who does post under his own name, and who does have experience of the senior appointments process, clearly takes a different view, and I still agree with him.
And, if I may turn around Fr. David's earlier question to me, how exactly would the appointment of a non-ordaining diocesan (from either extreme of churchmanship) contribute to the flourishing of women priests in that diocese?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 2:48pm GMT

Wow! Despite having won the war it seems that some women priests still cannot cope with the fact that a minority of Anglicans (ordained and lay) cannot accept their orders. This makes me very depressed for the future of any "mutual flourishing".

Posted by Jonno at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 3:50pm GMT

I fully support Nancy and all women who feel like her. No amount of 'sweet talk' will alter the fact that women are still not fully accepted in the Church of England's Mnistry

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 7:43pm GMT

"As you suggest, I look forward to Anthony's response seeking to justify why Traditionalists should be discriminated against in our mutual flourishing by being prevented and barred from becoming Diocesan bishops."

It is now the settled mind of the Church of England that the threefold order of ministry should be open to men and women on an equal basis. There is no theological objection to the new development. It will therefore not be open to anyone to question the episcopal status of any bishop on ground of gender. There must be mandatory recognition. That being the case, a traditionalist candidate for the post of diocesan bishop will be unable to demonstrate that he could be the Chief Pastor (Canon C18.1) and therefore the focus of unity in the diocese. He would be unable to ordain all priests in the diocese and participate in the consecration of women bishops. His position on women's ministry would make it largely impossible (at best unfair) to expect women priests to swear canonical obedience to him. The reason I extend this to suffragan bishops (recognising the legal differences) is that senior leadership teams in dioceses now operate on a fully collaborative basis. A diocese with an area scheme could not possibly consecrate a non-ordainer as an area bishop and I see little difference with a suffragan bishop. The mechanism for mutual flourishing is not to pretend that traditionalist bishops and their flock can somehow behave in such a way that their views can be aired brushed out of the equation. The mechanism is through providing extended oversight. I do not see this as discrimination against preferment. Traditionalists cease to be able to fulfil the role. Some will view my position as harsh, but this seems to be the new reality.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 8:03pm GMT

Is it likely that with six diocesan reps on the Crown Appts Commission now, a diocese that has had two or more diocesan bishops in sucession who ordain women, and 30 to 40% women clergy, will revert to someone who doesn't ordain women? Fair or not, I think it unlikely.

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 14 November 2014 at 4:36am GMT

"I do not see this as discrimination against preferment." Of course it is! If those who hold to the traditional view of the Apostolic Succession are banned and barred from holding the highest offices within the Established Church then it cannot be seen as anything other than pure discrimination and can in no way lead to mutual flourishing. The honeyed words emanating from the General Synod about an honoured place for all will remain simply that, unless sweet talk leads to action with the future appointment of non-ordaining and non-consecrating Diocesan bishops.
Anthony, how do you see the current Bishops of London and Chichester fitting into your "new reality" when they abstain, as I fully expect they will, from participating in the consecration of the first women bishops?
Malcolm, your point is quite easily answered by pointing to the present reality rather than the "new reality". It seems to me that women priests are already flourishing in the dioceses of London and Chichester under non-ordaining Diocesans. Indeed the Diocese of Chichester has just appointed its first female Archdeacon (Horsham) and it's first female DDO, I wish them both well and I am sure that they will both flourish and be a great asset to that diocese while at the same time serving under a first rate non-ordaining Diocesan.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 November 2014 at 6:40am GMT

Although he and I seem to have fallen out, I am 100% in agreement with Father David's last posting. It seems to me that Martin Warner is absolutely fulfilling his duty as a C of E diocesan and 'living the contradiction', as so many Anglicans do, in many different ways. That being so, there is absolutely no obstacle to a non-ordaining priest being appointed as a future Diocesan - provided that he is prepared to 'walk the walk' and behave in the same admirable manner.

Posted by John at Friday, 14 November 2014 at 9:06pm GMT

It seems to me that "mutual flourishing" actually means, as Martin Luther King said, that women are required to bear injustice for the sake of others quaint prejudices. It is a miserable position for female clergy to be under the supervision of a bishop who doesn't affirm her ordination. And I think it is a highly problematic example for girls. I would not raise children in CoE.

Mr. North might very well be a saint, they are all flawed in some way. But but it seems to me that CoE already has non-ordaining bishops, and now is the time to seek inclusive bishops… I thought that the non-ordaining bishops were going to be your "flying bishops," which would give ultra conservative parishes what they want, without insulting a huge swath of the workforce and parishioners who yearned so long for inclusion…

It seems that no one defined "mutual flourishing" and what it really means - as we say out in the Wild West, living under odd extreme conditions - "mutual flourishing" seems to mean that women have to suck it up, again.

Your CNC is an odd institution.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 12:45am GMT

John, although we are indeed both children of the Fall, may I assure you that I certainly haven't "fallen out" with you nor indeed with any other correspondent on T. A,. Whatever put that idea into your head? In fact, I am well pleased that you recognise in the present Bishop of Chichester an exemplary pastoral bishop in his dealings with all his clergy irrespective of gender. So, let's have more inspirational Traditionalist bishops like +Martin and soon to be +Philip to help grow the Kingdom!

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 6:52am GMT

Can I just observe to Cynthia that the CNC has no hand in the appointment of suffragan bishops, such as the Burnley see. The CNC deals solely with *diocesan* sees.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 10:30am GMT

Thank you, Father David. Next time you're in Durham, we might perhaps meet?

Posted by John at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 11:44am GMT


Whilst I understand that language and discourse is done differently in the States - especially in TEC - I think it does you no favours whatsoever to refer to the traditionalist doctrine of the Church as merely 'quaint prejudice'. Equally unkind words could be used of your church, glasshouses, stones etc.

For some (and for the majority of the worldwide Church) it is the Catholic and Apostolic faith.


Posted by Tristan at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 12:21pm GMT

I too would add my praise to +Martin Warner for making the best possible job of the paradoxical and conflicted situation in which he finds himself. But I cannot believe that there are any women priests in his diocese who would not prefer that their Chief Pastor was someone who had no doubts about the validity of their ordination. And the fact that one traditionalist bishop has handled the conflicted situation extremely well is not an argument for perpetuating the paradox into the future, or for introducing the paradox into another diocese where no paradox currently exists.
Cynthia is right that 'mutual flourishing' has not been properly defined and I fear that what some would understand by the term is actually 'independent flourishing', such as has occurred for the past 20 years at the separate Chrism masses that the PEVs have been allowed to hold. These have been excellent for those to whom extended episcopal care has generously been granted, but disastrous for diocesan unity. The tension at the heart of the recent settlement inevitably means that some things will occur which one or the other side would prefer not to happen. Perhaps 'mutual flourishing' has to mean that one side does not do things that they would prefer but that the other side would find not just unpreferable but wholly unacceptable.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 12:46pm GMT

I certainly don't agree with Cynthia's rather negative and highly jaundiced view of mutual flourishing. Surely mutual flourishing means and does what it says on the tin. It certainly shouldn't mean the marginalisation and eventual extinction of Traditionalists by denying them senior positions as Diocesan bishops within the Established Church.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 1:36pm GMT

Thanks for the clarification, Simon. So what does a Diocesan do? Will the Diocesan minister only to the parishes that opt out of dealing with WBs? Does the Diocesan have supervisory capacities over female clergy?

Here's the problem for me at the parish level. If I were a parent, I would not allow a non ordaining bishop anywhere near my children. No confirmations, receptions, etc. I would boycott Episcopal visits. Under no circumstances would I expose my children to any leader whose theology excludes. I wouldn't allow that attack on my girls and I wouldn't want my boys to get that message.

In TEC, and many mainline churches, the theology of inclusion is well established. It's a theology that believes that all of God's Children are created in the Image of God, and that our diversity is truly God's Creation and our call is to treat one another with dignity and respect.

The theology of exclusion is alien. And rightly so. It is only supported by cherry picking the Gospel. There are egalitarian passages, and the whole example of Jesus Christ involves breaking taboos to teach, heal, talk to, and hang out with women. Women were the first Witnesses to the Resurrection. You have to firmly ignore Jesus and elevate two passages of Paul to justify exclusion.

Somehow, I don't see how that that old, tortured theology can be a focus of unity. I get that there are lay people who hold those beliefs and that they need ministering. But it seems highly problematic as a broader matter for the church in general, for the women clergy who have to work with a superior who doesn't affirm their ordination, and for children.

I wish him well in his ministry. I just thought that "mutual flourishing" meant that women clergy and inclusive theologians would finally get to flourish.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 3:47pm GMT

"It seems that no one defined "mutual flourishing" and what it really means"

It might be interesting to pursue what "mutual flourishing" really means. It seems to derive from the original thinking behind 'honoured place' in the CofE for traditionalists (whether Anglo Catholic or ConEvo) and bears some of the hallmarks of the ++Welby 'disagreeing well' thesis. We want these congregations to continue to be part of the CofE and for them to continue to receive the episcopal ministry (not oversight) they desire. However, "mutual flourishing" cannot apply to the House of Bishops whose members are now bishops (Ordinaries in the legal sense) for their dioceses and in a church that now affirms women in all threefold orders. It will in the future be unconscionable for women bishops to have to participate in House of Bishops business with colleagues who do not recognise their ministry. Clearly however there will be a transitional period. As far as appointments are concerned, the CNC is highly unlikely to state categorically that it will not nominate a person who will not ordain women as priests and certainly no diocesan bishop would say this when appointing a suffragan. However, from my experience as both a central member of the CNC and a diocesan member of the CNC for my own vacant see in 2008, Perry Butler's view is of course the correct one. Going forward, it will be interesting to monitor the number of A and B parishes. Some existing A and B parishes may allow themselves up to two years to decide whether to pass a new resolution under paragraph 20 of the Declaration, but my sense is that we are likely to see a steady reduction in parishes of this type.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 5:48pm GMT

"I certainly don't agree with Cynthia's rather negative and highly jaundiced view of mutual flourishing."

I'm not jaundiced at all. I am your future. It seems that CoE is several decades behind TEC in inclusion and justice issues. You can cry "but we English are different from the Americans…" all you want. Spending time on both sides of things, and reading, I see that your secular population is appalled by CoE discrimination against women and LGBT people. The vast majority of your own members wanted WO and WB years ago. Walking into a "non ordaining," anti-women situation would be absolutely intolerable for a lot of people.

I'm trying to tell you that families under 40 won't hear the Gospel of Jesus if it's coming from people who disrespect their daughters. You can dress it up all you want, but every girl understands what's going on when she's excluded.

Our parish is growing. We put a focus on children and families. We are a gay friendly church that has had two female rectors in a row, encompassing 20+ years. The parents say that they are thrilled to have a spiritual home for their children in an inclusive setting.

It's the future. And it is theologically sound. I get that we don't all arrive at the Promised Land of justice and inclusion at the same time. But I'm worried that CoE isn't walking in the right direction.

I wish that for every decision that's made in CoE, leaders first ask "how does this impact our children?" If you don't ask and answer that question, you have no future.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 3:59am GMT

'It will in the future be unconscionable for women bishops to have to participate in House of Bishops business with colleagues who do not recognise their ministry.'

OR: 'It will in the future be unconscionable for traditionalist [and, I hope, ConEvo] bishops to have to participate in House of Bishops business with colleagues who are women bishops.'

The latter does seem to be 'conscionable'. Why not the former? There have been countless such situations in human affairs since civilisation began, including religious situations, and failure to countenance such situations has always produced strife.

Posted by John at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 6:32am GMT

This has been a good discussion and I hesitate to prolong it, but I am bound to repeat to John what I said some way back. It is now the settled mind of the Church of England that the threefold order of ministry should be open to men and women on an equal basis. There is no theological objection to the new development. It will therefore not be open to anyone to question the episcopal status of any bishop on ground of gender. The House of Bishops will from tomorrow onwards be conducting the business of a church according to the new reality and the Presidents are entitled to assume that all members are up for that. This is quite different from recognising that there are priests and congregations who cannot accept the development and who must be able to rely on the fact that their 'mutual flourishing' as a continuing part of the Church of England will be safeguarded.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 5:21pm GMT


I'm not English.

Posted by John at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 7:19pm GMT

Fr Phillip is an excellent man and Burnley is very lucky. Reading the above comments I thank God I crossed the Tiber via the Ordinariate last year, I only wish Fr Phillip & those of a like mind would follow, which would be to their and the Universal church's benefit.

Posted by robert at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 8:35pm GMT

"The latter does seem to be 'conscionable'. Why not the former?"

Because the message to girls is dreadful. In fact, it is unconscionable. It's injustice that only CoE leadership could package as "mutual flourishing."

It actually means that the vulnerable, girls, are carrying the burden of injustice, in addition to women clergy who have to work in an unaffirming situation - something guys never have to deal with.

It would have been good to see some WB's before another appointment affirming the unaffirming status quo. But no matter how you slice it and dice it, I don't see how you get around the horrific message that anti-women leadership sends to girls.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 11:36pm GMT

Athony, it is also the settled mind of the Church of England that those who hold a traditional view of the three fold ministry are equally and validly welcome in the Anglican fold in the "new reality" (that phrase sounds to be a tad Orwellian to me, shades of Newspeak and 1984 and all that). But if diocesan bishoprics are no longer to be offered to those who uphold what might be called the old reality and are discriminated against because of their deeply held biblical and traditional beliefs what future is there in the C of E for them to mutually flourish.?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 17 November 2014 at 11:52am GMT

Thank you Anthony for your authoritative, and in my view decisive, contributions to this debate. I was delighted to see my excellent bishop James (Roffen), to whom much of the credit should go for the recent settlement, saying much the same thing on the TV News last night.
It is settled, and here's to the promulgation today!

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 17 November 2014 at 12:06pm GMT

Father David,
I understood traditionalists requiring a safe place in the CoE where they could continue to worship in their established ways.

Why does that require a Diocesan bishop?
Why can you not flourish with an Area bishop who supports you?

This is a genuine question.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 17 November 2014 at 2:58pm GMT

"I think it does you no favours whatsoever to refer to the traditionalist doctrine of the Church as merely 'quaint prejudice'."

Once traditional doctrine supported slavery and the burning of witches.

The example of Jesus Christ is very inclusive of women's ministry. It is only 2 quotes from "Paul." Much of our CULTURAL misogyny comes down from a pre-scientific era… Oh bother, why bother with SCRIPTURE and REASON all over again. It goes nowhere. Thus "quaint prejudice" seems spot on.

Good luck getting those 20 and 30 somethings with children!

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at 2:18am GMT


Whilst I'm sure that TEC is simply cramming into the pews the 20s and 30s with children (or not, as I suspect your recent statistics show), in this country we're operating under the interesting picture that the RC church with its male-only clergy are getting in 100,000 more people than us every Sunday.

Indeed, in this country is not the CoE churches dedicated to the liberal way of theology that are crammed with 20s and 30s, indeed it is the opposite.


Posted by Tristan at Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at 12:35pm GMT

"Indeed, in this country is not the CoE churches dedicated to the liberal way of theology that are crammed with 20s and 30s, indeed it is the opposite."

If so, I find it likely that CoE lost the younger generations with its misogyny and homophobia. CoE is 4 decades behind on women and 1-2 decades behind on LGBT issues. Legally, England has been with or even ahead of the equality curve, so there's a disconnect. There may be hope of getting those younger families back, minus the discrimination. Given the broad public support of equality amongst the English, I just can't imagine that niches of intolerant people are the wave of the future.

Meanwhile, my parish is growing. In fact, the latest statistics (published last week), show that the fastest growing parishes are the very liberal ones, followed by the moderately liberal. The conservative parishes are in decline.

In TEC, Liberal parishes are growing, conservative ones are declining. Any growth in this secular age is amazing. Wow. The Good News of God's Radical Love poured out for absolutely ALL without excuse or exception, seems to resonate for some.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 1:40am GMT

Thanks an interesting point that Tristan made about the RC's having an average 100,000 more people than us on a Sunday. If the C of E continues to decline over the next few years, then at what stage does it cease to be the established church, and England becomes a Catholic country again. In response to Cynthia I think the lost younger generations are due more to politicians taking religion out of schools since the 1970's, as Baptists and the Methodists are losing numbers as well. If parents have no faith then their children are brought up the same way - so its self perpetuating. Sunday mornings are spent in the shops.

Posted by Henry Dee at Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 1:41pm GMT

"I think the lost younger generations are due more to politicians taking religion out of schools since the 1970's"

Secularization is an overwhelming modern trend throughout Europe. We're also experiencing it in the US (later than Europe) and we've always had separation of church and state in the schools (though pockets did prayer and whatnot). It is the state of the modern world.

The question for the 21st Century is this: can we spread the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ who died for ALL? And can we get the Good News into our governance and economic systems that benefit Western upper middle class whites, but often at the expense of others?

Those are the questions. And they have potentially inspiring responses. Alas, as long as the church is navel gazing and invoking it's absolute ENTITLEMENT to exclude women, LGBT people, etc., all people are going to see is the hypocrisy and they won't hear the Good News.

Misogyny and homophobia are unjust. Injustice is not inspiring, it will not speak the Good News to the masses in the 21st Century.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 5:34pm GMT

I have found this discussion helpful though it leaves a great many matters unresolved. Reference has been made to consultation: I am a member of the Blackburn cathedral congregation and have no sense of there being any consultation, though I know it is not necessary for suffragans in the same way as for diocesans. I understand that the CNC indicated that since the new diocesan was an evangelical the next appointment would be a catholic to preserve balance in the northern province. Blackburn is a divided diocese, de facto if not de jure, it is divided into two areas, east and west Lancashire presided over one by an evangelical bishop and the other a catholic one. Yet one of the senior clergy has suggested that the CofE is likely to go the way of the cotton industry.

Many posters have been near hagiographical about Philip North. We shall see how he carries out his ministry in practice. No-one has addressed the concerns of the women clergy that have been raised here nor of the message that has been sent to the wider world. I simply do not see how anyone who does not recognise women's orders can exercise pastoral oversight over them with a shred of integrity. As has been pointed out, 'flourishing' has nowhere been defined but, with Erika, I don't see why it requires a diocese-based bishop when there are PEVs. Anthony Archer has put it well. I also welcome David Runcorn's contributions to the discussion. People have spoke of those who feel intimidated because they do not hold a 'liberal' position. Let me say that as an unashamed liberal catholic in this diocese there are times when I could well have felt intimidated. Much has been made in the discussions about appointing gay priests as bishops and a potent argument against this has been that bishops must be a 'focus of unity'. If it is true in that case, it must be true in this case.

Thus, I wait to see how the three bishops act to be 'foci of unity' and how they will encourage the flourishing of all of us, not just those who who are opposed to women priests. While I am comfortable as a member of the cathedral congregation, I am deeply discouraged by the diocese as a whole. Despite the fact that Bishop Julian has ordained women to the priesthood, I have not seen a great deal of evidence of how he values the ministry of women priests.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 6:29pm GMT

Dear Daniel: In regards to your point "...and have no sense of there being any consultation"

Bishop Julian would have needed to hold some sort of consultation; whether that be internally or externally... The purpose of the consultation is to aid the Bishop's thinking and those who will be supporting him in making this appointment ~ I am sure that +Julian used the standard formula.

Although I must draw to your attention; it has always been Bishop Julian's intention and one that he has expressed publicly that Bishop John Goddard's successor will be a Traditionalist.

In regards to the concerns of female clergy; I think it will of course be a difficult for them to contemplate having another Bishop who will not recognise their orders and amongst the Traditionalist Catholic wing of the CofE; there must be a level of sympathy and understanding towards their concerns but I am very thankful that they will be receiving Fr Philip North; who is sympathetic; understanding and has supported the development of Female Pastoral Assistants (Many of whom are now ordained or in training) during his time in Camden.

I am certain that +Burnley will be in safe hands with Fr Philip's appointment and be assured of my prayers for all in the Burnley Area.

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Thursday, 20 November 2014 at 12:31am GMT

Well, Daniel, from what you have written it would seem that your Diocesan Bishop isn't a focus of unity for your good self! Using and reversing your own argument - how can a woman bishop be a focus of unity when so many will be opposed to the very concept? The Bishop of Rochester may well say that a bishop is a bishop is a bishop no matter what the gender but for many within the Church those words are merely "spin"
By the way isn't the term "liberal catholic" a contradiction in terms?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 20 November 2014 at 5:22am GMT

If I might address the points that made in two posts in response to mine:
Chuchu Nwagu: I am aware of the need to appoint a Bishop’s Advisory Group when selecting a new suffragan bishop. This is fairly narrowly drawn and does not really involve the kind of consultation that is necessary in cases such as these. It is a fairly closed system which is not adequate in this day and age. Given that the appointment was likely to be controversial, it would have been wiser to have consulted more widely, if only for Father North’s sake. You refer to Bishop Julian’s stated intention to appoint a ‘traditionalist’. This is clearly a coded way of referring to someone who does not recognise women’s priestly orders. It can, of course, mean other things. You refer to Father North’s support for female pastoral assistants. This is very different from supporting ordained women priests and ensuring that they flourish. You are a Londoner and used to area bishops. The Bishop of Burnley is not an area bishop and Bishop Julian has made clear that Father North will operate across the whole diocese.

Father David: You have not read my post carefully enough. I have made no suggestion that Bishop Julian is not a focus of unity for me. Please note that this is what I actually wrote: ’I wait to see how the three bishops act to be 'foci of unity' and how they will encourage the flourishing of all of us, not just those who are opposed to women priests’. It is premature to make a judgement. Please don’t misread what I said. Your riposte makes my point for me. We would do well to discard the concept of ‘focus of unity’ which seems to be used as a means of excluding from Bishop’s order those who are in any different from the current pattern and preserving the status quo unchallenged. What we need is courageous leadership and the process of exercising this may well in the short term cause disunity but in the long term promote growth and necessary change. No, being a ‘liberal catholic’ is not a contradiction in terms. I suggest you have a look at the Affirming Catholicism website. I regret both that you patronise me by referring to my ‘good self’ and also that you feel unable, unlike so many posters here, to use your full name. I hope that this is because you don’t feel in danger of any kind of reprisal.

Of course the only real solution is to elect bishops. It works very well in other churches.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Friday, 21 November 2014 at 4:29pm GMT

Dear Daniel, I have no desire to add in any way to your self declared sense of intimidation within your existing diocese. I certainly lament the fact that you think I am being patronising towards you. My intention in using the term "your good self" was intended to be taken courteously (as the phrase was most certainly used that way in former times), I regret the fact that you have taken it to be otherwise. If there is any discourtesy might it not be in your own final comment when you perceive in your Father in God - Bishop Julian a lack of valuing of the women priests within his diocese? I cannot believe for one moment that this can be the case. What I do know, however, beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the diocese of Blackburn will be truly and richly blessed by the future ministry of Bishop Philip North. My respect for Bishop Julian Henderson has increased enormously in that he has been true to his declared intention in appointing a Traditionalist to the suffragan see of Burnley. For that. Thanks be to God.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 22 November 2014 at 4:07am GMT

but will he be a focus for unity?

St. Oswald's Church, Knuzden

Posted by alex critchley at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 9:16am GMT

Very pleased to have this wonderful priest in the North west.

Posted by BR at Wednesday, 11 February 2015 at 6:24pm GMT
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