Thinking Anglicans

Media coverage and responses to Mawer report

Updated again Tuesday

The Church Times has this report by Paul Handley The Philip North Sheffield fiasco — and the question that simply wasn’t asked. And this further report: Theology and pastoral practice need further work, Mawer review into Philip North affair concludes.

Christian Today Harry Farley reports Church of England asked to consider ‘fundamental challenge’ to women bishops agreement.

Sheffield Star Sheffield bishop appointment who would not ordain women priests ‘surprise to many’, says report.

BBC Church of England ‘did not anticipate’ Bishop of Sheffield row.

Premier Radio Independent report says Sheffield controversy shouldn’t stop Philip North becoming a senior bishop.

Christian Today has a new article by Martyn Percy titled Consciences, Convictions and Consequences: A Brief Response to the Review of the Nomination to the See of Sheffield.

There is also an article about that article by Harry Farley titled Ban conservative bishops until we have gender equality, Church told. Earlier he had written about the FinF response below, with the headline Sheffield debacle shows CofE needs to promote more traditionalists, campaigners say. I recommend reading the underlying articles in full to get a more nuanced understanding…

This topic was also covered in the Church Times podcast published last week.

Organisational Responses:

Forward in Faith has published this response: Response to the Sheffield Review.

Women and the Church has published this: Statement from WATCH on the Release of the Independent Reviewer’s Report on the Sheffield Nomination.

70
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
70 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
23 Comment authors
JeremyWill RichardsEssenPeteMichael Mulhern Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I’ve worked with some very smart people, both in academia and in industry, and I like to think I have pretty decent instincts for what they look like. Martyn Percy, whom I’ve heard speak or chatted with multiple times, including on the topic of Philip North, is clearly one of those smart people. Every time I have heard him speak, he is the smartest guy in the room, and charming with it. Sir Phillip Mawer clearly doesn’t like the cut of his jib. He appears to think Percy is too clever by half. Unfortunately for him, he can’t lay an… Read more »

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

Philip Mawer’s report is not the most exciting read, but he makes some sensible recommendations on improving processes next time around. But Martyn Percy’s various contributions (appendix 7, with a whole string of sub-appendices!) still stand out as beacon of clear thinking, and ask the pertinent questions that remain underanswered by Mawer: namely, do traditionalists believe that women clergy are genuinely called by God to the priesthood, and do they believe in the validity of the sacraments they offer? And if not, how can they fulfill a role as Diocesan bishop in relation to women clergy? Mawer’s report makes clear… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

This whole matter of ‘mutual flourishing’ is going to be even more problematic on the matter of S/S Blessings. We, in ACANZP, are already experiencing threats of schism if our proposal – about to come before our G.S.2018 in the form of a ‘Way Forward’ for SSB – is found acceptable. Although women’s ordination is a more basic item on the justice agenda; S/S Blessings is a not dissimilar situation of trying to balance the accommodation of private conscience with a perceived need for doctrinal coherence. What has, surely, to be taken into account is whether a bishop should ever… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Academics who are against racism, misogyny, and violence, etc., are a product of “left-wing group-think”, Oh, that article is a whole parade of stupidity. One cannot help thinking that after boasting of an academic spouse, said spouse is either someone very unpopular in their department, or someone who is currently unhappy with their spouse making them sound like a bit of an idiot. People who sneer at intersectionality usually don’t do so because they have some subtle and nuanced way to separate racism, sexism and other forms of oppression so that they are no longer facets of the same quest… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“[W]e are in a position where to be ordained in the Church of England, you need to make an explicit commitment to accepting (and respecting) institutional sexism and homophobia.”

Well put. And this is indeed the problem.

Leave aside the anachronism, and the fact that the Church is now engaged in what would create enormous legal difficulties for any private employer.

More basically, the Church of England has painted itself into a deeply immoral, indeed sinful, corner.

Uncle Screwtape rejoices.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“to be ordained in the Church of England, you need to make an explicit commitment to accepting (and respecting) institutional sexism and homophobia”

Father David
Guest
Father David

Just as the Code of Practice and Resolutions A, B and C now lie like corpses rotting in the desert sands of Anglican Ecclesiastical history, so now the 5 Guiding Principles are being subjected to Death by a thousand cuts. As FinF’s Response to the Sheffield Review states:- “In the last three years – and indeed for some time before that – no priest who publicly espouses the traditional catholic position on holy orders has been appointed as an archdeacon, dean or residentiary canon in the Church of England. The Bishop of Burnley is the only such priest to have… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“[W]e are in a position where to be ordained in the Church of England, you need to make an explicit commitment to accepting (and respecting) institutional sexism and homophobia.”

And that preserves the “most conservative bench of bishops” in CoE’s recent history, as Welby bragged to the homophobic and often misogynistic GAFCON bishops.

David Runcorn
Guest

Father David Although you refer mutual flourishing you only appear here to address the concerns of traditionalist catholic tradition. Since the accent is on ‘mutual’ would you explain how you understand this agreement to honour and enable the flourishing of those deacons and priests in the church who are women? I read one of the challenges in the Mawer report is to the traditionalist tradition to be concerned beyond its own interests and be clearer how they understanding flourishing to work for those they disagree with.

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

I suspect probably Philip Mawer is not a subtle enough theologian to untangle the theological issues here (and nor should he be expected to be.) But if you ask a traditionalist what he thinks about his local female Methodist minister, for example, he might well praise her character, preaching, teaching, evangelistic and pastoral skills, and see her ministry as ‘grace-filled and transformative’. (An older generation of anglo-catholics might have talked here of ‘uncovenanted graces’.) If you pushed the traditionalist to say whether he thought his local Methodist minister was duly ordained, he might well be able to say: “Yes, she… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I of course defer to the smarts of Percy et al, but however ingenious their arguments, they miss the point: accepting, arguendo, that the compromise is a mess, it’s a mess that advocates of equal consecration signed up to in order to achieve change. That being so, if promises mean anything, we’re obliged to keep our word, and no amount of cleverness can do an endrun around it.

Janet Henderson
Guest

Dr Charles Clapham is right in saying that ordinands are now required to sign up to institutional sexism and homophobia. If you object to those terms then let’s just say they are required to respect the consequences of theologies that exclude women and gay people from the sacraments of ordination and marriage in certain instances. I have been an Anglican all my life, a priest for 23 years and a theological college tutor. The need for ordinands to sign up to this agenda crept up on us without discussion, explanation, preparation or warning, imposed by the actions of Synod and… Read more »

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

I’m still trying to work out what Jane Patterson is about. From the Mawer report: “116. No criticism can be made of Ms Jane Patterson’s decision not to withdraw from the Sheffield CNC (see paragraphs 43-44 above), as Baroness Fritchie’s observation on this point was considered but not adopted as a matter of policy following the Southwark vacancy. Nevertheless the issue of influence and perception of influence raised by Baroness Fritchie is a powerful one. It would, I suggest, be timely to revisit it.” Going back to 42, “Ms Patterson’s participation in the Commission has been questioned by a number… Read more »

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

I do understand your point, James Byron, and I appreciate the desire to be inclusive. I don’t want to hound traditionalists out of the church (and nor does Martyn Percy); I understand there are churches where women priests may not serve, and I am willing to live with this for the greater good. (I’ve even served in a resolution B parish myself.) But I don’t think it’s true to say that ‘we’ signed up to the five principles. I myself certainly didn’t. Like most Anglicans (whether clerical or lay) I am not on Synod, was not asked my view, nor… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“it’s a mess that advocates of equal consecration signed up to in order to achieve change”

Really? When, pray tell, did Synod vote on the 5 principles?

Or are they a bone that the House of Bishops threw to the traditionalists, that the traditionalists fell for, and that ever since, no one else particularly wants to defend?

This all comes back to how Welby and Sentamu chose to manage the politics of 2014. They made bad choices, mostly with an eye to relations with the Global South.

The rest of us, however, are not bound to those choices.

Father David
Guest
Father David

In response to David Runcorn, I wonder why he omits women bishops from his list, referring only to women deacons and priests? I would refer him to the brief statement from WATCH where the following concern is expressed:- “Since it has been possible for women to be part of the episcopacy in the Church of England sadly only two diocesan nominations have been made.” I can discover no reference to mutual flourishing in this short statement. Personally, within our own Team Ministry I work most happily with our female Distinctive Deacon and deeply value her excellent contribution to the extension… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Charles Clapham, I think that all members of the CoE are “bound” by the decisions made in General Synod, simply because that’s the system in our church. Just like I’m bound by the laws Parliament makes although I personally don’t vote for any. The question, for me, is whether the 5Gs will ultimately stand or whether they will be so unpopular that they become a Poll Tax moment. It strikes me that if North had answered the question put to him in the way he answered it during the enquiry, he would be Bishop of Sheffield by now. Yes, there… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Jeremy, Synod approved the package of measures in November, 2014, details provided by this very site.* The guiding principles are referenced in the documents, and I can find no examples of Synod voting to reject them. In any case, when equal consecration was passed earlier in 2014, it was clearly understood that traditionalists would remain welcome in the church, and not be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of their beliefs. That’s why an ombudsman was agreed to. It’s of course the right of anyone to disagree, voice their disagreement, and persuade England’s Synod to change the canons. Until that… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

“to be ordained in the Church of England, you need to make an explicit commitment to accepting (and respecting) institutional sexism and homophobia.” Though I share the concerns that lie behind it I have to say I find this kind of statement unhelpful and misleading. Nor is it factually true. The papers I submit, as a DDO, to selection conferences, signed by the candidate, require the inclusion of two affirmations. ‘x has read the Five Guiding Principles. I have discussed this with him and he has indicated his assent of them’ and ‘I have discussed Issues in Human Sexuality with… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Father David I was asking you about your own position on this. ‘What about them?’ is not an answer. In fact you do not answer my question. You say nothing about your commitment to seeking the mutual flourishing of women are priests and Bishops. I am in no doubt, within your tradition, you value your colleague’s minister as a distinctive deacon. Why wouldn’t you? But, as Mawer points out, mutual flourishing asks for more than that of us all.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

One of the things which makes Martyn Percy’s intervention more damaging is that he can explain his position clearly. You may not like his position, but one thing he cannot be accused of is a lack of clarity. Philip North, according to the report, was unhappy that his “nuanced” position was not conveyed adequately by the summary of the Doncaster meeting. He always has the opportunity to clarify his position in writing, but I suspect his position is not clear or he is not able to clarify it. Martyn Percy has the advantage of a career of academic writing. Let… Read more »

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

Thank you for your response, David Runcorn. It is good at least to have a forum to have these conversations. You put the assent to the 5 principles and to Issues in a very diplomatic (and Anglican) way. But to me it doesn’t really change the substance. It seems to me the problem currently in the church is the assumption that somehow or other we can square the circle – and come up with some compromise that keeps everybody on board. But I don’t think we can. Every time a concession is made to those who don’t believe in the… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“we are launching a new weekly children’s club at church on Wednesday nights for kids aged 8 to 11”

So what happens if one turns up whose parents are of the same sex? Do you tell them that their parents’ relationship is sinful, or do you dissemble and deny the basic tenets of the organisation that pays your salary? I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just asking what your basic moral calculus is as a non-homophobic representative, speaking ex cathedra, of an organisation which holds that same-sex relationships are invalid.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Various references have been made to what the Society/FinF thinks about the status of ordained women, and of men ordained by women bishops. Surely, the answers are:

– the ordained women are ordained, but only as deacons

– the men are not ordained at all.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Interested Observer, that’s how I read North’s position too. But we have to be clear that the legislation for women bishops passed with provisions for those who genuinely do not believe that women can be priests and bishops. However acceptable and sanitised North’s view may be, the rules would allow him to be a bishop even if his views were far more traditionalist than that. We cannot give up on the settlement now we’ve got women bishops just because we don’t like the compromise we had to sign up to. That would have absolutely no integrity and really stink. It’s… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Interested Observer, that Pastoral Guidelines are quite clear that the church supports same sex married couples and their children. Charles won’t have to lie. 18. We recognise the many reasons why couples wish their relationships to have a formal status. These include the joys of exclusive commitment and also extend to the importance of legal recognition of the relationship. To that end, civil partnership continues to be available for same sex couples. Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community and not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyle. Neither… Read more »

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

Thank you for the question, Interested Observer. As it happens we have several same sex couples in the congregation, who are valued and much-loved members of the church, including one couple who have young kids. So I make it clear that all are welcome, and that this parish church does not discriminate against those who are gay. If they quiz me (though in practice they never do) about the ‘official’ teaching on homosexuality, I explain that I think the ‘official’ teaching is wrong, and needs to change. I’m pretty up front about this both in sermons and on my blog,… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Very well said, Rev. Dr. Clapham.

If English progressives abandon the church out of some desire for an elusive and likely nonexistent moral purity, the effect will be a national institution left in the hands of traditionalists who’ll block all change. Equality will be further off than ever.

We do the best with what we have. No more can be asked, nor reasonably expected.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Agreed, Erika, this compromise is probably unsustainable. Perhaps the “third province” that traditionalists asked for back in ’08 is the answer. If so, it’s one that can be extended to encompass those who refuse to compromise on sexuality.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

James Byron, First, in 2014 I opposed the compromise because it would enshrine discrimination against women as church policy. I was wrong, as it turned out; but only in the sense that, as the Society complains, no one is paying the 5 principles much attention. Second, and relatedly, what “canons”? As the materials you link to show, the 5 principles were contained merely in a declaration from the House of Bishops. As you will recall, Synod contains two other houses, of clergy and of laity. I am willing to be corrected on the facts, but my recollection is that the… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Pastoral Guidelines are quite clear that the church supports same sex married couples”

Really? All of them? So what did Jeremy Pemberton do wrong?

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“why don’t you just leave what you see as a homophobic institution? “ No, I wasn’t asking that. I admire your position. I happen to think that the survival of the Church of England as a long-term institution is vital to the polity of the UK, and that many centuries of (on the whole) positive service both to people and the people should not be sacrificed to appease a small hardcore of obsessive homophobes. You are on the right side of history, and it is more important to the country that you fix the CofE than abandon it.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

More than once in his report, Sir Philip argues that there must be equivalent treatment for traditionalist priests serving under a female diocesan as for female priests serving under a traditionalist diocesan. This implies that he considers the two situations to be equivalent and analagous. If that is what he really thinks, and is not just an adopted position in the hope of steering his report to the conclusion the commissioning Archbishops would like to see, then I am afraid it only proves the extent to which he doesn’t understand the problem or the underlying issues. There is little or… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

oh, I get it, its all about the poor man Phil North. And here I was thinking it was about gender equality. Silly me. But do carry on chaps.

Father David
Guest
Father David

David Runcorn – I am more than happy to accede to Philip Mawer’s suggestion contained in his report (How Not to become a Diocesan Bishop) which speaks of “The need to speak to each other in terms of regard and affection rather than disdain or condemnation.” I would further add courtesy to his list of two positives.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest

I am struck by Erika’s clear understanding that the Pastoral Guidelines claim to support same-sex married couples and their children. It would be believable if that paragraph were the whole story. However, the truth is that the Church of England has not yet made up its mind if same-sex married people are even “really” married. Whatever they have, it clearly isn’t Holy Matrimony – as they fought tooth and nail to be excluded from the legislation – so that it is impossible (and illegal) for a same-sex couple to contract a marriage in a Church of England church. It is… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James,
that is of course where the third province would become a logistical nightmare. Because not all who oppose women priests are also homophobic, and so you’d need a province for people who don’t accept women priests or lgbti+ equality, one for people who are fine with priests but anti gay/trans, and one for people who are anti women but pro gay/trans.

And all that shows is what a weird understanding of the Episcopacy we have created.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest

Interested Observer:
Nothing. But a great deal of money has been spent trying to make out that it was a cross between the Great Train Robbery and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, so dire were its consequences were I not made an example of.

David Runcorn
Guest

Father David Thank you

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

I think Jeremy Pemberton shows well why the ‘live and let live, Anglicanism is a big tent’ approach has limits. Opinions have consequences, and when a licence or PTO is withdrawn because a priest or a layreader has entered a same-sex marriage, or an ordinand is not ordained for the same reasons, this needs to be named and challenged as discrimination. Both sides cannot be morally right or equally valid, nor is there equal ‘integrity’ on both sides. (This is Donald Trump territory!) Jesus called the religious conservatives of his day ‘broods of vipers’, and the evidence suggests they were… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Rod, I can’t see anyone on this discussion who has the slightest sympathy for North personally, nor any agreement with his position, whatever it might be. There a few people advancing the honourable, although in my view overly legalistic, view that “well, it was a bad compromise with bad people, but we should stick to our side of the bargain”, which is about as far from sympathy or agreement as you can get. So quite where “it’s all about the poor man Phil North” comes from, I don’t know. Anyway, thanks to JP I’ve been refreshing my memory of the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Interested Observer
“Really? All of them? So what did Jeremy Pemberton do wrong?”

No, of course not. As the paragraph I copied showed, it refers to lay people.
But you were asking what Charles could say to members of his congregation – and I assume that they would be lay. If they were ordained, they wouldn’t need to ask. That’s what he could say.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Jeremy, the CoE position on same sex marriage is theological mess. But we can play the same game our opponents have been successfully playing all these years, therefore shifting the goal posts. Lambeth 1.10 became quasi law because conservatives kept insisting that it was and acting as if it was. There is nothing to stop us from taking the Pastoral Guidelines as face value and on affirming that the CoE has said it accepts same sex married lay people and their families and that it will not ask intrusive questions of them. We need to remind ourselves of these guidelines,… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

I have a good deal of sympathy for Philip North personally, but little for his views on women priests, and none at all for the idea that he could have been an acceptable bishop of Sheffield or of any diocese whilst he holds those views.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Interested Observer, “Rod, I can’t see anyone on this discussion who has the slightest sympathy for North personally…” Never said they did. I was referring to the macro situation which created this alleged “crisis” and some of the media coverage, including the captions, which TA has posted above this thread. Check out the Premier Radio story, for example, including the comments thread there. In any event the effort to create, for reasons of church politics, moral equivalency between sexism and equal rights in a statistically moribund institution, prompts me to write only dismissive comments. The whole sad circus is… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“I was referring to the macro situation”

Ah, sorry. I thought you were critiquing this discussion on TA, not more widely. I agree: the narrative of the report is “poor Phil, whatever has he done to upset people?”

“The whole sad circus is what people have come to expect from organized religion.”

With good cause. Because a peculiar obsession with who has a penis and what they do with it, which outside the church is no longer an issue for society at large, is pretty much organised religion can talk about these days.

Ian
Guest
Ian

As part of the catholic church, it is a decision the CofE should not make without the support of (presumably) Rome.

Well, that was my view then, and it was the only view I held on the matter. and that is why I am a Roman Catholic now.
Oh, and BTW Dr Clapham, you might have embarrassing elderly relatives with unacceptable views on race.
As someone in my sixties, I learnt my anti racism as a teenager from the pages of Naught for your Comfort and my views have not changed since!

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘Let’s paste it to the latest document on church planting or congregational development or the new evangelism or whatever it is we are calling the strategy for institutional survival this week.’ That’s unnecessarily nasty, Rod. I have a colleague here in Edmonton who is a pastor in the Alliance Church. He’s a young man, father of two, and he’s working hard to plant a congregation in our neighbourhood. Church planting is backbreakingly hard work, but also very worthwhile; many studies have shown that new church plants are far more successful than existing congregations at reaching non-Christian folk and helping them… Read more »

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

If a question wasn’t asked that should have been asked, and if other questions were asked that didn’t have clear answers (such as whether Bishop North had agreed to accept the post if offered it), shouldn’t someone be being held to account?

Maybe I’m missing something, but if this was the business world it would be clear whose responsibility this was…

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Jeremy, General Synod welcomed the five principles in November, 2013.* Maybe they’re wrong, but if so, Synod appears to be in agreement.

* https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod/about-general-synod/house-of-bishops/declaration-on-the-ministry-of-bishops-and-priests.aspx