Comments: Consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley

Wishing this good person well in further ministry.

Posted by Laurie at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 7:03pm GMT

Bishop North is quoted as saying, "My consecration sets another precedent, which is to make it possible that those who cannot accept this development in the Church's life to remain as loyal Anglicans."

Why were these specific arrangements needed in order to make it possible for people to remain?

Seems to me that the Archbishop could have randomly divided the bishops present into two halves. The half with Bishop Lane in it would not have laid on hands; the half without her would have.

But no. That would have been too impure....

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 7:45pm GMT

Fr. Ashley Beck, blogging for the Tablet, may be raising the question for his own reasons, but he makes a serious theological point:

"The "theology of taint" to which the archbishop referred is a device which enabled some Anglo-Catholics after 1994 to remain Anglicans: they avoid for sacramental purposes bishops who ordain women, while remaining under their jurisdiction, and the Anglican authorities have acceded to this by supplying "untainted" prelates, of whom Philip North is the latest. Quite apart from the disturbing use by some of the word "taint", this has been as much a departure from traditional theology of ministry as the decision to ordain women: and surely in spite of his protests Dr Sentamu is really subscribing to it. He could preside at the second consecration as he did at the first, but has chosen not to do so; surely he is conceding the opponents’ view of his hands as being somewhat tainted, and what is in effect a challenge to his authority. The bishops playing the key role in the two ceremonies are not the same bishops.

"Catholics in northern England will want to work with both new Anglican bishops and will wish them well. But this theological question will not go away. In what sense are Bishop Lane and Bishop North bishops of the same Church? A bishop is by definition a focus for unity: how can bishops function if they do not accept each other’s ministry? Mutual love does not make these questions go away; and if all of us are still seeking real unity we need to face them."

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 7:49pm GMT

Blessings on Bishop North and his new ministry and witness within the CofE.

Posted by Nick Porter at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 8:22pm GMT

Suffice to say that the presence of 3 male-only-bishops as sole ‘consecrators’ in Bishop North’s episcopal ordination, has marked him out as a claimant to an episcopal heritage within the Church of England that has not been ‘tainted’ by the ordination of women in that Church. This, despite the fact that the Church of England, in which he has been episcopally ordained, contains within it the authorised clerical and episcopal ministry of many faithful women priests and, now, one bishop! This situation, in itself, might leave the Church open to the accusation of dwelling in the Wonderland of Alice.

There was one hopeful spot in this incipient imbroglio; and that was the inclusion – in the picture of the 3 F.i.F. bishops laying their hands on the candidate – of a glimpse of the recently ordained Bishop of Stockport, the Rt.Revd. Libby Lane. May other godly women soon follow in her inaugural footsteps!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 9:07pm GMT

May I suggest to Father Ron that he might take much heart from the album of photos linked to above. The Rt. Revd. Libby Lane appears in several - prominently alongside the Rt. Revd. Philip North and in one they share a warm embrace of welcome. Bishop Libby announced at the end of last week that she would be attending the consecration at Philip's specific invitation.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 10:26pm GMT

Thank you for your suggestion, RPNewark. I do, de facto, take heart from Bishop Libby's embrace of Bishop Philip - at her embrace of him, after his episcopal ordination. Perhaps this willingness on her part: to embrace his dictate of conscience on the efficacy of her episcopate; might signal to all of us that sublime charism of 'Unity in diversity' for which our Anglican Community needs to be celebrated.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 11:20pm GMT

What an uplifting photo.

What TEC could never have done, the CofE is endeavouring to do. May God bless this effort.

Good on Bishops Lane and North, and +York.

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 2 February 2015 at 11:29pm GMT

"Kum-Bah-Yah, My Lord, Kum-Bah-Yah..."

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 1:14am GMT

Oh, so now a picture after the service erases the picture of the ordination itself, which sacramentalized schism?

I don't think so!

Someone realized that it would be clever to come up with a visual to counter the picture of Bishop Lane praying on the sidelines during the key moment. As though three people standing together outside the Minster would erase the image of The Three Pure Bishops--and only The Three Pure Bishops--ordaining The Next Pure Bishop.

We are not so easily duped.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 4:02am GMT

Good and encouraging to see the photograph of Philip and Libby warmly embracing each other at the exchange of The Peace. They do say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let us hope that this particular image lays to rest any further talk of "taint" which unfortunately has been resuscitated again in recent days.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 7:40am GMT

Bishop of London was there not sure why he didnt lay on hands?

Posted by M Gray at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 7:46am GMT

Not only the Bishop of London, but also several other bishops, for example the two PEVs from the Southern Province and the Bishop of Fulham were all present. But none of them was invited to take part in the laying on of hands.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 7:51am GMT

Simon Sarmiento "not invited" would be a problem, I think, because they could not then graciously restrain themselves from responding to the invitation.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 8:21am GMT

I am sure Philip North will make an excellent bishop and I wish him well.

But I am disturbed by the theology and ecclesiology of this precedent set not by +Philip but by ++Sentamu.

I thought it was a central tenet of Anglican understanding that a sacrament is not dependent on the state of the celebrant. That however sinful (or even 'tainted') the celebrant, the sacrament is a sign of God's grace not of the human who is celebrating.

So I fail to see how ++Sentamu having laid hands on +Philip at his consecration would, in this understanding, make any difference.

Had ++Sentamu been himself a woman I would understand the traditionalist position (although I disagree with it.) If the Abp of York was a woman then a traditionalist would not believe she was even a priest, let alone a bishop, and so they would not countenance an ordination performed by a woman, in the same way they would not receive the elements if consecrated by a women.

But that is about whether or not a woman is capable of being a priest, not about whether a man who is a priest is somehow damaged or invalidated by holding a particular view, or by having ordained a woman as priest or bishop.

Let's go back to the Anglican understanding again - the state of the celebrant has no effect on the efficacy of the sacrament.

So I still fail to understand why +Philip's ordination as bishop was a rather exclusive affair. Unless the withholding of laying on of hands by most of the bishops there was a kind of obtuse gesture of solidarity with +Libby whose hands would no doubt not have been welcome in the laying on of hands scrum.

Posted by Adrian Beney at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 8:22am GMT

I was at Philip North's consecration yesterday. He is now a Bishop in Lancashire, ministering in the Diocese of Blackburn. We will all do our best to get along together and minimise any sense of division, our new bishop will be receiving communion from the Bishop of Blackburn next week and will be taking part in the Chrism Eucharist. How we maintain the 'highest degree of communion' in the years to come remains to be seen by the level of 'apartness' that traditionalists put in place. Unfortunately a 'high degree of communion' was not in evidence yesterday. The consecration was done by the Bishop of Chichester - just how far removed from Lancashire can you get? Not our Diocesan bishop and not our Metropolitan? It felt like a snub to us in the diocese rather than gracious restraint. It would only be a tiny, tiny number of our parishes, if any at all, who would in conscience refuse Philip next week if the Archbishop had done the consecration, and many, many more who would be happier. Philip is a Bishop for the whole of our diocese - he is not a PEV - so why was his consecration done that way, so symbolic of difference rather than unity?
Even the Archbishop had to begin the service by telling us it was not about taint - I thought we all knew that already, so why were the consecration arrangements made to look like taint and smell like taint when Philip himself did not request them and our Diocese didn't need them?

Posted by Nancy Goodrich at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 8:57am GMT

It does look as if the new era of trying to disagree better is being seen both in this consecration, and in the issue of Mitochondrial donation. The ABY actions and the Church of England response to medical ethical issues seem to be following, in deference to conservative views, St Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 8.9 about "taking care, lest our liberty somehow becomes a stumbling block to the weak".
However, though clearly we do need to learn to disagree better it should never be at the cost of justice and truth. I do hope that General Synod members are able to ask some searching questions about these matters at the February synod.

Posted by Paul Richardson at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 9:06am GMT

I'm not quite sure why the Tablet's blogger, Fr Ashley Beck, is getting exercised by 'taint'. Philip North IS tainted. He was consecrated by two bishops who have been 'tainted' by virtue of being consecrated by the Archbishop of York (and other bishops) who had previously ordained women. This is not about 'purity' - and Jeremy is being theologically mischievous for continuing to bang that particular drum. It is about theological conviction. In that sense, Fr Ashley Beck IS right to ask, from a Roman Catholic perspective, whether Philip North and Libby Lane belong to the same Church. The (moving and heartening) photographs suggest they do; and the legislation that General Synod voted for suggests they do. But, for Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology, juridical episcopal oversight cannot be exercised in a way that suggests the bishop is not the 'fount' from which other aspects of church, ministry and sacraments flow.

But, as I keep saying, this is what Synod voted for. How many theologians were involved in drafting this legislation? I know there were plenty of lawyers and campaigners...

In the meantime, it is right to give thanks and praise for two new bishops in the Church of God.

Posted by James A at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 9:39am GMT

Libby Lane shows more graciousness than I think I might be capable of were I in a similar position. I am genuinely glad friends who were there found it an uplifting service, notwithstanding the theological issues that still remain around the way this was conducted.

The picture above is indeed a bit of spin. The caption should read 'The Archbishop of York with a bishop he recently ordained and one he didn't' .

Posted by Charles Read at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 9:39am GMT

"Church can find a way to defeat fear and suspicion" @++Sentamu. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. If the author of those words had not acted with such contempt towards the rest of the Church, thinking the arrangements for Philip North's consecration could be kept under the radar until the day itself, and believed his dissembling actions would not compound the hurt, anger, confusion and mistrust that overshadowed both consecrations, we would not need to overcome mistrust. It makes me wonder whether the time is approaching for someone else to assume the huge burden of that Office - someone who can attract trust and whose instinctive modus operandi is more collaborative and open to a relationship of 'critical solidarity' with those around him?

Posted by William Richards at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 10:15am GMT

Laus Deo! What glorious images of fellowship. And at the end of the day, all received communion together. May Bishops Libby and Philip be agents of the reconciling love of Christ in our midst.

Posted by Peter at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 12:37pm GMT

Libby Lane sought ordination after General Synod had agreed to women priests. By then some of us had been struggling for over 30 yeas and then we struggled for 20 more years dealing with the same arguments over and over again. That is basically why Libby can embrace and some of us hold back remembering the arguments and the pain that just will not easily go away.

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 12:39pm GMT

Cute pic of Archbishop Sentamu, the non-consecrating president, together with bishops North and Lane. What better way to gloss over institutional dysfunction, "gracious restrain" and "mutual flourishing" and all that, than with a nice photo. Reminds me of all those smiling in laws captured on film at the wedding reception.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 4:31pm GMT

"Philip North IS tainted. He was consecrated by two bishops who have been 'tainted' by virtue of being consecrated by the Archbishop of York (and other bishops) who had previously ordained women. This is not about 'purity' - and Jeremy is being theologically mischievous for continuing to bang that particular drum."

James A, it's quite a (theo)logical contortion to say that taint is involved, but purity is not. Dance on that pin if you wish.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 5:45pm GMT

I'm not sure Thinking Anglicans has run a caption competition before ...

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 8:01pm GMT

Mark Bennet, LOL! Let's go for it!

Posted by Mary Clara at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 12:40am GMT

Jean Mayland,
I think that is the nature of all change. Those who fought for it in the early days invariably seem to end up exhausted and, to some extent or other cynical. They are right to be!
Thankfully, there are those who benefited from the transformations achieved and who can move the cause forward with less emotional baggage.

We must be grateful for both groups. Together, they will bring about real and lasting change.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 10:45am GMT

Dear Jean (Mayland) though I don't know you personally I would like to pay tribute to all the 'Trojan Women' including yourself, several of whom have ministered to me and through whom I have received Christ, who persevered for many years of their lives without thought for their own comfort because they knew their vocation to the priesthood was truly from God.

They soldiered on radiantly, courageously, despite deep personal trauma through their experiences.
They are a breed set apart by God, I firmly believe, selected not only for their zeal for Christ, but for their tenacity. Their vital contribution in the renewal of the Church of England and indeed the whole Christian Church must be recorded for future generations.

Posted by Helen Rawdon at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 3:32pm GMT

Erika Thanks Jean

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 4:08pm GMT

Photo at top of this thread:
Another go at the caption competition:

Speech bubbles:

++Semtanu
'That seemed to go all right!'

Bishop Libby
'Mustn't touch, Oops! There I go again!'

Bishop North
"I must get home and get these robes laundered...

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 7:10pm GMT

Thought bubbles:

Archbishop Sentamu:
"Don't anybody move. And smile, for God's sake!"

Bishop North:
"How can I smile when you just dragged me over here."

Bishop Lane:
"Gracious restraint, but only inside the Minster."

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 9:44pm GMT

I'd like to add two things:

Philip North's comments after the event were rather good.

Bishop Libby (with whom I don't imagine I would agree about anything) has a really lovely smile.

Posted by John at Saturday, 7 February 2015 at 11:18am GMT

In other words, he's got a good mind while she's got a really pretty face. That's the kind of comment that gets a lot of people upset about patronizing mysogyny.

Posted by John Holding at Sunday, 8 February 2015 at 3:13am GMT
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