Comments: Statement about the Forthcoming Consecrations from the Archbishop of York

At last! Would it not have saved an awful lot of hurt, misunderstanding, speculation and mud-slinging, if the Archbishop had made some kind of public statement when he wrote to the Northern bishops? Even if I don't quite 'get' how he has reached this position, he could have avoided overshadowing these consecrations with controversy if he had been open about his intentions at an earlier stage. What a shocking example of leadership.

Posted by Tom Marshall at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 7:23pm GMT

'Tagged with Anglican Communion.'

At least they admit it.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 7:29pm GMT

A very wise statement from the Archbishop of York, refuting any pernicious nonsense concerning "taint" and putting the record straight with regard to the fact that it was the Archbishop himself who suggested the particular arrangements regarding Fr. Philip's consecration.
Further, I understand that the Bishop of Burnley will make all the necessary oaths of obedience to the Archbishop and that Ebor will present the episcopal ring, symbol of episcopal authority.
I recall the deep symbolic significance of another occasion when Pope Paul VI presented his papal ring to Archbishop Ramsey in Rome. How high our hopes were in those far off days of reunion between our two Communions. Thank you Archbishop Sentamu for your sage words which hopefully will have the effect of clearing muddied waters.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 9:37pm GMT

The levels of self-importance with which the whole thing reads are staggering. Being a Metropolitan must be a thing utterly inconceivable to us mortals.

Posted by DBD at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 10:59pm GMT

Also, this got my attention simultaneously with the news that all ordinands are to assent to the Five Guiding Principles. Goodness what a lot of assenting there is these days...

Posted by DBD at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 11:00pm GMT

Despite the ABY's letters of explanation - as to the fact that he will not be principal consecrator at Fr. Philip North's episcopal ordination - the very fact that he was one of the consecrators at other F.i.F. episcopal ordinations should have rendered his performing the same function at Fr.Philip's episcopal ordination as being totally acceptable, both to himself and the Church whose authority he represents.

To display a different sense of propriety in this new situation is to give evidence of an ecclesial inconsistency that does not augur well for the future credibility of the Church of England in the eyes of its fellow provincial members.

If Father North was not the instigator of this 'special arrangement', then why should it be allowed to happen?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 11:03pm GMT

Wise my hat. I note the Archbishop, with a startling lack of modesty, is keen to label his own actions as wise. Time will tell. I think this is a disgraceful set of arrangements that will establish a most unhelpful precedent.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 11:05pm GMT

The Church Times cites an FiF magazine which said that 'a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women'. So the choreography in the Minster acknowledges that that so-called impairment has been created.

If it feels like we've been here before, the language is remarkably similar to that used after the consecration of Gene Robinson when the alleged impairment was international.

Posted by Andrew at Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 11:30pm GMT

political gymnastics.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 12:49am GMT

And then there's this bit, which caused me to laugh out loud:

'10. These arrangements are for prayer, not politics.'

Here the Archbishop of York is -- to be kind -- straining credibility.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 12:50am GMT

At last something Ex Cathedra! But, whilst I cannot deny that the current legislation gives ++Sentamu the right to make this decision, I still feel, with any due respect, that it is wholly misguided and will be highly damaging and divisive. The arguments against it are contained within the statement itself, where it points out that ++Sentamu has consecrated +Beverley and +Whitby in the past, despite having laid hands on many women priests. So what is different now to justify establishing this disastrous precedent?
I have written to ++Justin to protest, and I urge others to do likewise in the hope of getting this changed. GS and Parliament need to make their views known as well.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 1:05am GMT

As a wiser person might have put it, what has been truly tainted in this whole shambles is love.

Posted by ExRevd at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 6:01am GMT

I am trying very hard to understand this. I could understand if the Archbishop of York had quietly made arrangements for three traditionalist bishops to be involved in the consecration of Philip North. But for the Archbishop and over a dozen other bishops to be present and not take part in laying on of hands seems to me to suggest that somehow the new bishop is not welcomed by his brother and sister bishops, turning what should be a joyous ceremony into a terrible sign of exclusion, not 'gracious restraint'.

Posted by Peter at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 6:06am GMT

If it is true , as the Archbishop of York says, that"these arrangements were offered at my suggestion and not at Philip North’s request", then the implication is that Philip North did not require this rather convoluted and controversial arrangement, which begs the question of why the Archbishop thought he needed to offer it. Either the Archbishop is trying to deflect attention away from Philip North by taking responsibility for the decision himself - which may be kindly meant, but muddies the waters - or he is imagining, and thereby creating, a problem where none really existed for Philip North. Either way, this does not seem to have been sensibly handled.
That said, I recall my own ordination as a priest, the first in my Diocese to take place in a mixed gender ordination. Fearing the possibility, for which there was no evidence, that someone would be offended if any of the priests who had laid hands on me then laid hands on the male ordinand who was being ordained alongside me, the ruling was made that each of us could nominate half a dozen priests to lay on hands, but that the normal process of inviting all the priests present to share in this would be suspended. This, despite the fact that the male ordinand, his church, family and friends were entirely in favour of the ordination of women.
The decision to impose these arrangement an were somewhat undercut, however, when a senior member of the Diocesan clergy, who had been well known for his opposition to the ordination of women asked me just before the service if I would mind him joining in with the laying on of hands too...

Posted by Anne at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 6:12am GMT

Have to say, such is my general opinion of the moral calibre of our two leaders and such the confusions and obfuscations surrounding this issue in the protracted build-up, that I see no good reason to believe this statement.

Posted by John at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 8:40am GMT

"I presided at the consecration of the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley, a Provincial Episcopal Visitor serving traditionalist parishes across the Dioceses of the Province of York. I also presided at the Consecration of the present Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Martin Warner, when he was made Bishop of Whitby. There were no objections on either of these occasions, despite the fact that I have been ordaining women to the priesthood since I first became Bishop for Stepney in 1996."

Like Malcolm Dixon up thread, I just don't get this.

Are we to assume that, yes, there was impaired communion between ++York and Glyn Webster and Martin Warner before their consecrations, but the impairment was not sufficiently great that ++York could not, in fact, consecrate them? Will that impaired communion have become "more impaired" by Libby Lane's consecration on Monday? By how much more is the impairment impaired? How impaired does the impaired communion have to be for a bishop not to take part in a consecration? How many circles of impairment are there?

Are we also to assume that any FiF bishops will not take any sacramental role in any future ordinations and consecrations, except of men who also hold those beliefs? What about confirmations? Does impairment of communion work both ways, or only one?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 8:45am GMT

Ebor wrote: 'While they normally act as chief consecrator, and will continue to do so ...' I read this as Ebor being the chief consecrator in this case, so what's the fuss about? The comment elsewhere that stopped me in my huffing and puffing was a remark that it is not the catholics who have provoked the formation of a new 'sect'- they merely stand by the 'old' one.

Posted by Fr William at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 9:49am GMT

This is not mutual flourishing. It is at best separate flourishing, and more likely no flourishing of any kind. Although we are told who will not be laying on hands, we are not told specifically who will. Why the need for this continued 'cloak and dagger' approach? Are they (rightly) ashamed of it?
My guess (posted weeks ago in an earlier thread) is that the three participants in this shameful piece of separatism will be +Chichester, +Beverley and +Pontefract, but what do I know?
Another curiosity - ++Sentamu states that he discussed these arrangements with Philip North on 19th November, at which point even the good Abp is unlikely to have known that Libby Lane would be appointed as + Stockport, and that she would be consecrated before Fr North! So why this elaborate farrago?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 10:47am GMT

William - ++Ebor is not going to be the chief consecrator for Philip North. That is what the problem is in part and also opens up the question of what 'normally' actually means in his statement.

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 11:16am GMT

I suspect (re Malcolm Dixon's question) that what has changed is the promulgation of the Canon making the consecration of women legal. This will be seen as creating a new ecclesial reality, I suspect.

I, too, am struggling to 'get it' (those with greater theological and legal skill than me will get to grips with the minutiae no doubt). What I do 'get' is that the Archbishop of York came up with this proposal and thought he could keep it under wraps; was forced in to making a statement, only after media leaks, in which his frustration was barely concealed; and gives the impression that power rest with him alone, and there is no accountability to the wider body of Christ on which his decision impacts. Far from clarifying matters, we are still left guessing about WHO will preside at the consecration on 2nd February. My (highly reliable) information is that the Bishop of Chichester will preside, with the bishops of Beverley and Pontefract as co-consecrators. A further whisper (as yet unconfirmed) is that the bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda will be invited to participate in the laying-on of hands.

This is a massive PR disaster by the Archbishop and the wider Church of England, which can only shine the media spotlight on our divisions, with Joe Public concluding that the infighting continues as normal, as we ordain the first woman bishop. This legislation was passed to take us beyond the past divisions. I am simply left wondering if the Archbishop 'gets it.'

Posted by James A at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 11:26am GMT

Fr William

Read paragraph 5 under Arrangements: "The Archbishop will delegate to another bishop the authority to celebrate the Liturgy of Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist." This other bishop will be the chief consecrator (assisted by two other nominated bishops - paragraph 7). Paragraph 7 also makes clear that the Archbishop will not be laying hands on Fr North.

Posted by Peter Owen at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 1:50pm GMT

"What I do 'get' is that the Archbishop of York came up with this proposal and thought he could keep it under wraps; was forced in to making a statement, only after media leaks, in which his frustration was barely concealed; and gives the impression that power rest with him alone, and there is no accountability to the wider body of Christ on which his decision impacts." James A.

All of which is odd, given that - in everything else that happens within his Province - he has no power at all. None whatsoever.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 3:20pm GMT

Does anyone know how many traditionalist parishes in the Diocese of Blackburn the new Bishop of Burnley will be ministering to?

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 23 January 2015 at 11:10pm GMT

Sorry, I was being lazy. The factual statement on the diocese issued by the vacancy-in-see committee in October 2012 notes that there are 226 parishes and 176 benefices. There are two suffragans, Lancaster and Burnley, and two archdeacons, which by comparison with larger dioceses (both in York and Canterbury) suggests fairly light senior clergy duties. Supporting the benefices, there were 144 stipendiary clergy/priests-in-charge, only 16 of whom were women. That must have improved since. More notable perhaps was the number of resolution parishes: A - 35; B - 63; and C - 12. Resolution C would be expected to be low, given the availability of both a traditionalist diocesan and a suffragan (may include some ConEvos?); the key statistic is Resolution B parishes and the trajectory of that figure over the next two years. I must admit, given the apparent background to the new suffragan appointment, I would have expected more parishes in this category.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 1:29am GMT

Malcolm, my prophetic powers do not extend to identifying who the Chief Consecrator will be at Fr. Philip"s consecration a week on Monday but I very much doubt that it will be +Chichester as, although he was a former Northern suffragan, Bishop Warner in now firmly established in the Southern Province and doing a first rate job as Diocesan Bishop of Chichester. The obvious person to have been Chief Consecrator would have been Archbishop Sentamu's predecessor but David Hope has sadly withdrawn from active ministry following the publication of the report concerning Robert Waddington.
I think that you may well be correct in identifying +Beverley and +Bishop Tony Robinson (Bishop for the Wakefield Area, formerly Pontefract) as the two other co-consecrators. Bit it really is a mystery as to the identity of the one the Archbishop of York has nominated to act in his stead?

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 8:01am GMT

@Anthony Archer

When I wrote to all Diocesan Registrars on behalf of GRAS in 2008 there were apparently 4 parishes in the Diocese of Blackburn that had passed Resolutions A and B and had applied for “Resolution C” (i.e. petitioned to the diocesan bishop for Alternative Episcopal Oversight)

16 parishes had passed Resolution A and B
4 parishes had passed Resolution B:

Resolution A - re: a woman as the minister who presides at or celebrates the Holy Communion or pronounces the Absolution in the parish
Resolution B - re: a woman as the incumbent or priest-in-charge of the benefice or as a team vicar for the benefice.

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) wanted to attempt to measure the evidence of change in stance in those parishes where the PCC has previously approved such Resolutions and Petitions. However there was no obligation within the Measure for PCCs passing Resolutions to inform archdeacons, so any data derived from their annual articles of enquiry were unsure. Diocesan registrars were not in that predicament but seemed overall sufficiently uncertain of the lines of communication to render any attempt to publish the results of the survey implausible and unworthy.

Posted by Paul Edelin at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 8:19am GMT

According to the 2013 church Statistics, about 1/4 of Blackburn parishes were then Resolution B. One may assume some more who felt it unnecessary to sign up under the previous diocesan. I have posted on the more recent thread a different angle for anyone else with little to do today to read.

Posted by Neil Patterson at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 9:02am GMT

The point surely Anthony is that as Bishop of Burnley he is ministering to the whole diocese...the Bishop of Blackburn could have used a PEV if he needed a bishop to give sacramental care to ABC parishes. Does Blackurn have a area system? I think probably not.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 9:31am GMT

No need to wonder, James A. The Abp clearly doesn't 'get it', and somebody needs to tell him 'which way is up'.
Furthermore, if your unconfirmed whisper turns out to be true, and the SSWSH bishops get to lay on hands as well, the whole thing will become a dissenting jamboree for the whole of the Northern Province and beyond, where dissenters get to celebrate their apartness, and thumb their noses at their proper Dioceses and Ordinaries. It has happened before (at Southwark in 2011), but I had hoped that the new settlement had put an end to such divisive nonsense. Truly, as you say, a PR disaster for the whole church, and just one person (not the poor Fr North) claims, and deserves, all the blame.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 10:56am GMT

Partly in response to Anthony Archer - Philip is not a PEV. He will be ministering to all parishes in his episcopal area (don't know if they divide that diocese into areas) - that is another element in this being a theologically incomprehensible way of proceeding.

Posted by Charles Read at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 7:51pm GMT

What on earth do Parliament and the ABC have to do with it? It is the Metropolitan's decision as to who ordains bishops in his province and he has decided it won't, on this occasion, be him.

Move along. Very little to see here.

Posted by Richard at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 9:23pm GMT

@ Charles Read
That is exactly my point. As a suffragan his ministry will potentially be across the whole diocese, or at least a part of it. However, with rather fewer traditionalist parishes than I had thought, there will presumably be many who will prefer the ministry of +Blackburn or +Lancaster. He should have been appointed as an additional PEV in the Northern Province in my opinion, whereupon the arrangements for his consecration would have raised not a hair. The whole episode raises questions of judgement.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 11:49pm GMT

'It is the Metropolitan's decision as to who ordains bishops in his province.'

You think that Parliament could not change this, if it wanted to?

Absolute power, in this case, is being abused.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 25 January 2015 at 1:44am GMT

Au contraire, Richard, there is a lot to see here, and it's not a pretty sight. There is no doubt that ++Ebor has the right to determine who will consecrate Fr North, but the issue is how wisely he has exercised that right. The large number of posts in this and related threads shows the widespread outrage that the decision has caused, where it appears that to satisfy the wishes of a tiny minority, the feelings of the majority have been trampled on, and all women priests (and not a few men) insulted.
The Abp's statement is an example of spin at its worst, and repeatedly appears to argue that black is white. It claims that it is compliant with the five principles but, whilst it goes much further than would be needed to satisfy principle 5, it is in direct contravention of at least two of the other principles. No 'holding in tension' here!
Then it claims that it is not motivated by 'the so-called Theology of Taint' but, in the absence of any alternative theological justification being offered, taint is all that one is left with. As ++Sentamu was apparently acceptable as chief consecrator of +Beverley and the previous +Whitby, all that has changed since then is that he will tomorrow lay hands on the first woman bishop. What else is that but taint?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Sunday, 25 January 2015 at 1:14pm GMT

"As ++Sentamu was apparently acceptable as chief consecrator of +Beverley and the previous +Whitby, all that has changed since then is that he will tomorrow lay hands on the first woman bishop. What else is that but taint?"

Could it be that he is establishing a new set of working practices that will endure as the number of bishops acceptable to the whole CofE reduces, and will even service the appointment of a female archbishop?

Posted by Labarum at Monday, 26 January 2015 at 9:12am GMT

As a matter of interest, how many Resolution A,B and C ( I'll refer to them as such for easy reference) parishes are there in the Chester diocese. Has any new parish passed the resolutions (or whatever term it is now) since the new Bishop of Stockport was announced? It will also be interesting in Blackburn diocese to see if new resolutions are passed if Fr Philip turns out to be a better bishop than the other two. Sometimes self interest beats principles.

Posted by Henry Dee at Monday, 26 January 2015 at 2:09pm GMT

It could be, Labarum, that ++Sentamu is taking a far-sighted view in the way you describe, but I fear he is instead riding roughshod over what many in GS thought that they were voting for (as several GS members have attested in these pages).
In any case, 'sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof' and I see no justification at this very early stage for enshrining more division than is necessary in anticipation of future events that may not occur for many years.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 27 January 2015 at 6:03pm GMT

"Could it be that he is establishing a new set of working practices that will endure as the number of bishops acceptable to the whole CofE reduces[?]"

Let's hope not. If that's his intent, then he is willfully perpetuating the problem.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 11:24am GMT
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