Thinking Anglicans

Philip North Withdraws From Bishop of Whitby Post

Updated yet again 7 pm

Father Philip North Withdraws From Bishop of Whitby Post

Father Philip North, who earlier this year was appointed to be the new Bishop of Whitby in the Diocese of York, has announced he is withdrawing from the role. He has notified the Archbishop of York and his current bishop, the Bishop of London, of his decision. He will now remain as Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in North London.

Philip North commented, “It was a great honour to be chosen for this role and I had been very much looking forward to taking up the position. However, in the light of the recent vote in the General Synod and having listened to the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, I have concluded that it is not possible for me, at this difficult time for our Church, to be a focus for unity. I have therefore decided that it is better to step aside at this stage.

“I have reached this decision after a time of deep reflection and feel sure that it is for the best. I now look forward to refocusing my energies on the pastoral needs of my Parish.”

The Bishop of London added, “I can understand the reasons for Philip’s decision. He is a gifted and energetic priest and I am glad that he remains in this Diocese to continue his outstanding work in Camden Town.”

The original news of his appointment was (rather belatedly) reported in this news item with a headline about a quite different appointment.

Ed Thornton at the Church Times has a report of what is meant by “the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland” see “I would not be a focus for unity”: Philip North withdraws from Bishop of Whitby post.

…The churchwarden of St Oswald’s Church, Lythe, in Whitby, John Secker, wrote a letter to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, dated 28 November, which gathered a number of signatories.

The letter said: “We are puzzled, dismayed and very disappointed that for the third time running we have been assigned a Bishop of Whitby who does not accept the ordination of women priests. . .

“We are aware that some parishes, some clergy, and some of the laity in the Whitby bishopric do not accept the validity of women priests but, as in the rest of the country, a substantial majority of us do. So why should we have to have a bishop who does not accept them? We assume that there must be some sort of rationale behind the decision, but you should be aware that many of us feel aggrieved and overlooked.”

In a reply, dated 6 December, Dr Sentamu wrote: “Whatever fears there may be about Revd North’s ability to work with all in the Archdeaconry [of Cleveland], I am confident that he will not only live up to Bishop Martin’s example, but also go beyond it in his valuing of the ministry of his female colleagues.

“Clearly the appointment of Revd North has also been made as part of our accommodation for our petitioning parishes in this diocese. The fact is that the vast majority of our petitioning parishes are in the Cleveland Archdeaconry and so the see of Whitby is the obvious choice for such episcopal provision where the diocesan bishop is an outspoken advocate of women’s ministry. . .

“I deeply regret that this appointment should be seen as in any way indicating a lack of respect and value for women’s ministry in this Diocese and in the Church as a whole. I would hope that my words and actions elsewhere would be ample proof to the contrary.”

The Evening Standard has Clergyman says he will not take up bishop job, as Church of England crisis deepens

The Diocese of York has now issued this announcement: Fr Philip North withdraws from Bishop of Whitby post

…Yesterday, Archbishop Sentamu wrote to all clergy and Readers in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland to say, “It is with sadness that I have heard from Revd Philip North of his decision to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Whitby.

“This has come as a great disappointment to me personally and I am sure to many in the wider church, the Diocese and the Archdeaconry of Cleveland.

“Philip North is not a single-issue priest. As a gifted pastor-teacher he is deeply committed to the flourishing of the diverse ministries of all God’s people – lay and ordained. His dynamic vision for making Christ visible in mission and ministry, as well as serving the poor, would have been a great asset to us all.

“I am returning to the Diocese later tomorrow, having been in Uganda to attend the Installation of the new Archbishop.

“The question of the appointment of a new bishop will be first referred to the Dioceses Commission. As many of you may know, the Dioceses Commission will be reviewing our Diocese, its structures, boundaries and delivery of mission. As to the timing of when this will happen, the Dioceses Commission will let us know.

“Please pray for Philip and all those in the Cleveland Archdeaconry at this time.”

John Bingham at the Telegraph has Priest forced to stand aside as bishop over traditionalist view on women.

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rjb
rjb
7 years ago

This is a shame. Even those of us who disagree with Fr North on the matter of women bishops were convinced that he would make a fine bishop himself, and would represent the conservative Anglo-Catholic position in that role with his usual humanity and humour.

JCF
JCF
7 years ago

Translation for an Ignorant Yank, please?

David Johnson
David Johnson
7 years ago

A ‘Man of Principle’, like the one who he attempts to follow.

Whitby’s loss is London’s continuing gain.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
7 years ago

Somewhat opaque.

Jeremy
Jeremy
7 years ago

“However, in the light of the recent vote in the General Synod and having listened to the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, I have concluded that it is not possible for me, at this difficult time for our Church, to be a focus for unity.” Is Father Philip North a member of General Synod? If so, which way did he vote in the House of Clergy? The Archdeaconry of Cleveland seems to include Thirsk–represented in Parliament by Anne McIntosh, who has been outspoken on the Tory benches in favor of women bishops. Presumably Ms. McIntosh would not… Read more »

Tony Phelan
Tony Phelan
7 years ago

Whatever the merits of Fr North and his ability to ‘value the ministry of his female colleagues’ (whom he presumably is unable to regard as priests), I wonder whether this isn’t the voice of a quiet majority finally being heard over the sound of dissident fellow anglicans.

Jeremy
Jeremy
7 years ago

Simon, the update explains much. Thank you.

Benedict
Benedict
7 years ago

I hope the Churchwarden and other signatories feel ashamed at their actions as Christians causing, as they have, a man of integrity and honour to step down. It is nothing less than a witch hunt.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
7 years ago

Revd North!!!

Dan BD
7 years ago

Quite interesting is the passing mention of deferring to the DioCom on whether to reappoint: (at the end of the DoY statement) http://www.dioceseofyork.org.uk/news-events/news/news-from-the-diocese-of-york/02082.html

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
7 years ago

Like others, I was surprised and perplexed by this announcement. Fr North has built a reputation as one of the most reasonable and eirenic representatives of the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic constituency, and his explanation asked more questions for me than it answered. Ed Thornton’s piece from the CT gives a clue to one possible explanation. I have always felt that Res. C parishes have had much more generous representation in the House of Bishops than their numbers justified, and wondered why it was necessary to have extra suffragan sees like Whitby and Fulham, over and above the official provision of PEVs,… Read more »

David G.Weston
David G.Weston
7 years ago

What a tragic situation & clearly shows the intollerance and un Christian attitudes reflected in the views of the pro-women people.
Fr Philip North is a truly outstanding Priest & would have made a great Bishop.What a loss for the Anglican Church in the Cleveland area

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
7 years ago

The issue is about collegiality. Philip North does not accept women priests let alone bishops. How can he offer episcopal oversight to those he doesn’t recognise as colleagues and why should they offer loyalty and obedience to him? His gifts as a potential bishop may go to waste as a result – like those of so many women.

Father David
Father David
7 years ago

I too am “puzzled, dismayed and very disappointed” that reaction in the Cleveland Archdeaconry has caused Father Philip North to withdraw hs acceptance of the Suffragan See of Whitby. The people of North Yorkshire have now lost the opportunity of having an exceptinally talented priest as their next bishop.
While writing may I respectfully refer His Grace, the Archbishop of York to that page in Crockford’s Clerical Directory on “How to address the Clergy”? It may be The Reverend Philip North or the Reverend Mr. North but never, NEVER “Revd North”

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
7 years ago

“How to address the Clergy”? It may be The Reverend Philip North or the Reverend Mr. North but never, NEVER “Revd North” Father David

Cluedo has much to answer for.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
7 years ago

“Is Father Philip North a member of General Synod? If so, which way did he vote in the House of Clergy?” Jeremy

Yes, he is a member and he voted against.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
7 years ago

Like others I found the article somewhat oblique. The article from The Telegraph may be as helpful to others as it was to me.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9750468/Priest-forced-to-stand-aside-as-bishop-over-traditionalist-view-on-women.html

ED: I will add this link to the main article now.

sueeve
sueeve
7 years ago

To be of the other tradition to one’s bishop is painful from either direction. Some have had to live with this for a long time. To develop a tradition in one jurisdiction, to give two or three areas consecutive bishops of the same tradition, means that some have to actively ‘respect’ those with whom they disagree for a considerable period of time. I am sure that Father Philip North will be an excellent bishop at some point; it is the idea that one appointment is always of the same stance which is the problem, rather than a personal rejection of… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
7 years ago

As Philip North has been referred to a number of times on this thread, then the correct form is simply Mr North. Save the clerical Mr!!

As for the people of Whitby missing out on a good bishop, I am not that bothered; there are loads of good people in the C of E who never get to be bishops, women and men alike. You can’t help thinking of some of the ones who do get to be bishops that they only got there to get them out of parishes – they do less damage as bishops.

Original Observer
Original Observer
7 years ago

What? Parishes choosing their own bishop? Never!!!

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
7 years ago

“What a tragic situation & clearly shows the intollerance and un Christian attitudes reflected in the views of the pro-women people.”

So let me see how this works.

When Christians who do not agree with women’s ordination ask for a Bishop who supports their views, that is OK, and we should make proper provision for that.

But when Christians who do support women bishops ask for a Bishop who supports their views, then this is intolerant and un-Christian.

Surely what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Lisa
Lisa
7 years ago

It is difficult to see how the integrity of a woman priest can be honoured when her bishop does not regard her as a priest; whereas he still expects her to regard him as a bishop with pastoral oversight over her priestly ministry. The next Diocesan Bishop to be appointed will be Blackburn, and currently Blackburn Diocese is being looked after by the Bishop of Burnley, one of the three members of the House of Bishops who voted in Synod against women bishops, and now he is having to give pastoral oversight and care to the women clergy in that… Read more »

Labarum
Labarum
7 years ago

Jane, you have just made the argument for the Third Province, or some similar arrangement of parallel jurisdiction. In truth the collegial unity of the bishops of the Church of England has been impaired since those first Bristol ordinations. If we remain committed to the view that both “integrities” are to be accepted and valued in the Anglican Communion we have to live with this impairment. And turn the argument round: how can a priest offer canonical obedience to a person he does not believe to be a bishop? Especially given that the priest may legitimately and laudably hold that… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
7 years ago

This raises important issues of principle going forward. As always (remember Reading), it is the individual concerned whose ministry is questioned and who has to suffer the consequences from what I fear was probably an unwise appointment. The Crown, the CNC and every diocesan bishop needs to take stock. London diocese seems to have succeeded with this model, but for how much longer? The principal criteria in the appointment of any bishop is the ability for him to be a focus of unity, as well as Chief Pastor etc. Given the women bishops’ fiasco, it may well now be the… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
7 years ago

It is worth pointing out that Chichester has just installed the third bishop in a row who will not ordain women and that there has never been a bishop in the diocese who will. The fervent representations of those who want a woman ordaining bishop have so far gone completely unheard. Why could not the needs of resolution c parishes be met here by the flying bishops?

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
7 years ago

Nothing new in any of this. Opponents of women’s ministry can’t understand why women should mind being ministered to by someone who denies their ministry. The rest of can’t understand why they can’t understand.

Geo Noakes
Geo Noakes
7 years ago

What this sorry episode shows is that bishops whose sacramental ministries are fully acceptable to C Parishes and clergy will have to continue to be appointed to the Sees of Beverley, Richborough and Ebbsfleet because the system of provision via the appointment of traditionalist bishops to Area Sees within dioceses based upon ‘trust’ and ‘respect’ is now broken beyond repair. If traditionalists can no longer be appointed to ordinary Sees within dioceses then the unity of the CofE is effectively destroyed and we are moving fast towards the one-party state so beloved by PECUSA.

JCF
JCF
7 years ago

Shorter Simon Dawson:

“Christians who do not agree with women’s ordination/proper provision

Christians who do support women bishops/this is intolerant and un-Christian.”

By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
7 years ago

I am amazed this hasn’t happened before.

Vanessa Baron
Vanessa Baron
7 years ago

This is a tragedy, especially for Cleveland. I am a ‘woman priest’ and know Fr Philip well. He is endlessly supportive, respectful and a true colleague. I have witnessed him stand up for women priests on a number of occasions. What a mess!

Rosie Bates
Rosie Bates
7 years ago

This is another tragic consequence of ‘Two Integrities’. Rev’d Philip North has shown integrity by his decision. The Church of England has a particular role in the life of the worldwide Church. She is Catholic whist not called to adhere to the doctrine of Rome. She is not Protestant in her Creed. The Church of England is a broad church whilst, as someone joked, not fully accepting broads! It seems right and proper that her Priests be enabled to genuinely and wholeheartedly vow allegiance to their Bishop. Given the weight of their various ministries this is vital and has nothing… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
7 years ago

Of course this not such a different situation to the one Jeffrey John faced…a group wrote to the Archbishop…and he stood down.

Tim Moore
Tim Moore
7 years ago

A couple of points: It is apparent that the protests of laity in the Cleveland episcopal area contributed to Fr Philip’s decision. Is there any precedent for this in the Church of England? For me it’s another example demonstrating why the CofE should move towards electing its bishops. This way talented people like Fr Philip can be called for their skills, rather than for ticking the conservative/liberal Evo/Catholic boxes. Secondly, given Fr Philip’s near-poster boy status for Trad Catholicism (in a sub-culture of Anglicanism severely lacking in charismatic spokesmen), does North’s withdrawal work as a political move? Rather than “intolerant… Read more »

WKG
WKG
7 years ago

“…the one-party state so beloved by PECUSA.”

Use of this kind of political rhetoric about provinces that widely affirm the ordained ministries of women is pretty “rich” coming from folks who look to ROME as their major inspiration!

Neil
Neil
7 years ago

I’m surprised that nobody has suggested possible political positioning in all this. Are not the (rather more senior) sees of Blackburn and Europe up for grabs before long? My solution would be to appoint the only other bishop elect I remember withdrawing (Jeffrey John) because he was open about his sexual orientation (though celibate) to one of the vacancies, and Philip North, who is open about his opposition to women’s ordination, to the other. Both seem to be good men.

Benedict
Benedict
7 years ago

In response to Simon Dawson’s point, the difference is that in the Diocese of York as a whole, the majority of bishops are not traditionalists, and Fr North’s appt was simply in accordance with the Bonds of Peace of the Act of synod, whereby a suffragan is provided for C parishes, of which, by the way, there are a significant minority in Cleveland. The reality demonstrated by the actions of those signatories is that what they want is a Church cleansed of every last remnant of those who disagree with them. Now I am coming to understand what ‘respect’ means,… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
7 years ago

There is so much truth in this, in my book.

So much.

‘Nothing new in any of this. Opponents of women’s ministry can’t understand why women should mind being ministered to by someone who denies their ministry. The rest of can’t understand why they can’t understand.’

Posted by: Jane Charman on Monday, 17 December 2012 at 5:59pm

May be if we drop the word ‘priest’ in favour of ‘minister’ it could help. As a child in Liverpool we always said minster or vicar – the sky did nt fall in on us.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
7 years ago

Anthony Archer makes an interesting point. It is possible that the answer is somewhat different from the one he gives – and that the unwisdom in Whitby was that a particular post was apparently being informally reserved to a particular kind of bishop in spite of the variety of people the bishop was in fact serving. If a person has the qualities and calling to be a bishop he (or she) should be able to become a bishop anywhere (no second-class bishops). Maybe there would need to be some flexibility in the application of area schemes to create some appropriate… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
7 years ago

Benedict, In reply to your comment above dated 17 Dec, 10.24. I was not commenting on the original churchwarden’s letter, or Father North’s action, but rather commenting on a couple of postings on this website which I think indicate double standards. One of which was made by you. All the churchwarden did in his letter was to point out that if Father North was appointed Bishop then a significant number of Christians in his care would have a Bishop who disagreed theologically with his views of women’s ordination. And this would be the third Bishop in a row in that… Read more »

Chuchu Nwagu
Chuchu Nwagu
7 years ago

I am deeply saddened by this development, Fr Philip North would and will be a great Bishop. He has a great passion for the Gospels and a strong devotion of prayer The Church has no hope if they start basing preferment on what somebodies personal theological conviction is – Fr Philip would have made it work. Many people have said that how can women priests accept the ministry of a bishop who doesn’t recognise their order – The same could be said that why should a male priest accept the ministry of a bishop who believes homosexuality is wrong or… Read more »

RosalindR
RosalindR
7 years ago

“…C parishes, of which, by the way, there are a significant minority in Cleveland.” (Benedict)

According to the most recent C of E statistics there are 5 resolution C parishes in the whole diocese of York (452 parishes in total). There are 8 Resolution A parishes (so one assumes 3 in addition to the resolution C parishes). I assume that even if the existence of a sympathetic Bishop of Whitby meant that some parishes have not petitioned for extended oversight, they would all have passed Resolution A.

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
7 years ago

John sentamu seems not to have consulted about this appointment, so no wonder they feel aggrieved at its unsuitability.

Some things do not change.

Father David
Father David
7 years ago

Can anyone suggest how, in the present climate, a woman bishop could possibly hope to be “a focus for unity”?
With regard to the future ministry of the outstandingly able Fr. Philip North – if not Blackburn or Europe – then Lewes in the Chichester diocese is currently vacant – although would that be too nepotistic if Bishop Martin Warner were to appoint his Walsingham successor as successor to Bishop Wallace Benn?

Jeremy
Jeremy
7 years ago

Isn’t the point here that if three bishops in a row, each of whom is opposed to women as bishops, are appointed to a particular see, then that see begins to resemble a “no go” area for women priests? Judging from the experiences in other provinces, schismatic tendencies arise when a see becomes confirmed in its minority theology, and sees its minority view reflected, or even entrenched, by a succession of like-minded bishops. That experience would suggest that the next appointment to Whitby (or, for that matter, Chichester) should be a proponent of women priests and bishops. As for Mr.… Read more »

Father David
Father David
7 years ago

I notice that there is a cleric at St. Oswald’s church, Lythe, near Whitby called the Rev Josephine Evetts-Secker. The Churchwarden who organised the letter which assisted in bringing about Fr. Philip North’s withdrawal of acceptance of the Suffragan See of Whitby is John Secker. I wonder if by any chance they are related?

Jeremy
Jeremy
7 years ago

Please pardon the second post in rapid succession.

But I think a more concise way of phrasing what I said before is this:

“Honoured place” does not mean the _same_ honoured place.

Cynthia
Cynthia
7 years ago

“What a tragic situation & clearly shows the intollerance and un Christian attitudes reflected in the views of the pro-women people.”

Amazing. Misogyny is inherently intolerant. Horrifically so, and about as un Christian as one can be, unless of course one is also racist and homophobic. It’s oppressive. Does that sound like Jesus?

Good for the people who want a bishop who isn’t an oppressor. By the way, is it true that in the UK dioceses don’t get to choose their bishops? Really?

Jonno
Jonno
7 years ago

I’m still amazed that Anglo-catholics continue to think they are welcome to remain in the Church of England. Wake up!

PSB
PSB
7 years ago

One wonders about the appointment process. How much appropriate lay representation in the interview process?

Plear
Plear
7 years ago

Jonno, There are many Anglo Catholics who welcome and affirm women priests. So it is not as simple as your stereo typing indicates.

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