Updated again Friday
The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has issued this announcement:
The Bishop of Horsham
Statement by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society
It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham’s resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society. I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others.
Part of The Society’s purpose is to continue within the Church of England a tradition of sacramental theology and ministry that accords with the mind and practice of the great churches of East and West. We see this as our contribution both to the breadth and diversity of the Church of England and to the quest for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.
As a member of the Council of Bishops, the Bishop of Chichester will continue to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration to the clergy and people of The Society in his diocese.
We send Bishop Mark our good wishes for his future ministry.
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
This has been reported in the local Sussex press with a more tendentious headline: Horsham Bishop will support women bishops in shock shift in theology
The Bishop of Horsham announced today (June 10) that he has stepped down from a traditionalists’ committee following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.
The Rt Rev Mark Sowerby has resigned from the Society’s Council of Bishops, which has long held the thinking that women should not be ordained as priests, deacons and bishops in the Church of England.
He said today that he now wishes to accept women into all these roles….
The Chichester diocesan website now has Bishop of Horsham – Resignation as a member of the Society’s Council of Bishops
…The Bishop of Chichester said today: “Bishop Mark’s shift in theological outlook on the ordination of women priests and bishops is a costly one. All who know and respect him will understand the serious struggle with conscience that will have led to his decision. We respect his honesty and applaud his courage. For some of those he serves it will be a development that they cannot follow, and that will be painful; for others, this news will be greeted with relief and considerable rejoicing.
Bishop Mark will continue to minister in the diocese as suffragan bishop of Horsham. Traditionalists who have looked to him for sacramental ministry will still have available to them the pastoral care and oversight of the diocesan bishop.
Future arrangements for the oversight of ordination in this diocese had already been agreed, prior to Bishop Mark’s decision. All ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood will take place in the Cathedral; all three bishops will participate in the ordinations, in ways that respect the theological conscience of those present. This will follow the precedent set by the Archbishop of York in the arrangements for the episcopal ordination of Libby Lane as bishop of Stockport and Philip North as bishop of Burnley.
Bishop Martin concluded: “Within the household of faith, we are committed to the trust and respect for theological conscience that undergirds the Five Guiding Principles of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. We seek the greatest degree of communion possible in our apostolic life of faith, of hope and of love. We ask for God’s continued blessing on Bishop Mark in proclaiming and nurturing the call to know, love, follow Jesus.”
The Church Times carries a report, Another woman bishop appointed, as Horsham changes his view, which includes quotes from Bishop Mark’s letter to Bishop Tony.