Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Wakefield to retire

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield, has announced that he will retire on 31 August 2024. He is one of five Area Bishops in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds.

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Malcolm Gray
Malcolm Gray
13 days ago

Best Wishes on your Retirement Bishop thanks for all you have done

Adrian Judd
Adrian Judd
13 days ago

Tony has great empathy and cares for his clergy. I have often advised colleagues to ask his advice when faced with difficult situations. My Muslim friends respect him deeply for his interfaith work.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
13 days ago

When in my childhood days I used to belt out ‘Summer suns are glowing’ with my classmates, I had no idea that we owe that hymn to the first Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How. He also gave us ‘For all the saints’.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
13 days ago

I wish Tony Robinson well in his retirement, but I hope he is not replaced. Leeds diocese is too top heavy as it is.

Geoff McL.
Geoff McL.
Reply to  Sam Jones
13 days ago

Would Resolution C (or whatever it’s called now) parishes in the diocese then simply look to +Beverley?

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Geoff McL.
12 days ago

Yes

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Sam Jones
12 days ago

Wakefield was a diocese which was brought against its will, into the newly formed Diocese of Leeds, making it an Area rather than a diocese. As well as that a significant part was sliced off to create a Huddersfield area. I once made a mistake on TA of referring to Wakefield Cathedral as being an ex cathedral, and was severely corrected for it. Well, get rid of the title Bishop of Wakefield, and there’s not a lot left to be a Cathedral. Wakefield Diocese had a distinguished history in the Cof E, from Bp. Walsham How onwards. To abolish it… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Ian
12 days ago

The diocese hosted the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield from 1898 to whatever year the reorganisation took place.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Ian
12 days ago

The Bishopric of Wakefield, as now constituted, is a suffragan or titular see, and as such the bishop does not have a cathedra, and so no cathedral either. This bishopric is the one that was formerly named Pontefract, but was renamed to Wakefield after the diocesan see of Wakefield was suppressed. Wakefield Cathedral is one of the three cathedrals of the Bishopric of Leeds.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
12 days ago

Yes,I understand that. My point really, is that to lose the title Bishop of Wakefield, albeit as a suffragan title, would be the culmination of what you refer to as a suppression and turn it into a symbolic extinction.

Simon Cowling
Simon Cowling
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
12 days ago

Thank you Simon. I’m grateful to someone from outside the diocese for pointing out that the three cathedrals of the diocese of Leeds all serve the whole diocese. As such, we all welcome all our Area Bishops on a regular basis and on an equal footing. But there is only one diocesan bishop, the Bishop of Leeds, and he has a cathedra in all three of his cathedrals. However odd it might seem to the rest of the Church of England it works really well – and we’re about to enter on our second decade with confidence and hope.

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Simon Cowling
12 days ago

Not that different from the mediaeval precedent set by the Diocese of Lichfield, which (I think I remember correctly) had three cathedrals, in Lichfield, Coventry and Chester. There was also the example of Bath and Wells, where the two cathedrals co-existed until Wells won out over Bath.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  NJW
12 days ago

Lichfield was a cathedral from c. 669?-1075 and (arguably) from the 1130s? (1140): https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol3/pp140-166. Coventry St Mary priory was a cathedral from 1102-1539: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol2/pp52-59, and the entreaties of the infamous Rowland Lee to prevent its destruction proved futile. However, only after 1661 did the episcopal style change to Lichfield & Coventry from the former Coventry & Lichfield: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/fasti-ecclesiae/1541-1847/vol10/vii-ix. Chester St John the Baptist was a cathedral only briefly in 1075-87?, presumably when Lanfranc was insisting on sees being removed to major centres of population: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/ches/vol5/pt2/pp125-133. So there were never more than two cathedrals at any one time within the [west]… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
11 days ago

According to the website of St John’s Church in Chester, it remained a cathedral until St Werburgh’s Abbey took over in 1541. Bishops, when in Cheshire, were sometimes referred to as Bishop of Chester (Coventry and Lichfield) for instance in petitions dated 1298 and 1337.

Last edited 11 days ago by T Pott
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  T Pott
10 days ago

Many thanks. Absent the VCH, the sole modern published materials of note are: (i) https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Lectures_on_the_history_of_S_John_baptis/AzosAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR3&printsec=frontcover (at pp. 10-11, 13, 17 and 19), by S. Cooper Scott; and (ii) https://archive.org/details/cathedralchurcho00hiatuoft/cathedralchurcho00hiatuoft/page/84/mode/2up?view=theater, by Charles Hiatt for the Bell series (see pp. 85 and 104). Both Scott and Hiatt refer to Sir Peter Leycester’s incomplete history of the county (1673), albeit without providing references, although the text may be found at p. 72 here, but in an expurgated copy: https://archive.org/details/historycheshire00webbgoog/page/72/mode/2up?view=theater: however, this does not help the cause of St John’s. The first volume of George Ormerod’s massive amplification of Leycester (1816), apparently used neither… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
9 days ago

What, precisely, is meant by the assertion that St John’s was or was not a cathedral? Could uncertainty on this point explain different view points.

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Froghole
8 days ago

The Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae (https://www.british-history.ac.uk/fasti-ecclesiae/1300-1541/vol10/pp1-3#h3-s2) shows a number of occasions throughout the 13th-15th centuries when either the election of the bishop was made by the chapter of Lichfield alone or by that of both Lichfield and Coventry, with several disputes between the two chapters – one of which was referred to the papal curia. This indicates that through much of this period the two cathedrals were both functioning as such (although the claims for Chester are much weaker…!)

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  NJW
8 days ago

Many thanks. Indeed. What I was trying to do in my earlier (and tedious) comments was to discount the claims of Chester, which were merely fleeting. Le Neve is indeed invaluable, and the introductions in the Athlone press reprints are mines of information. In the case of Dublin, the archbishops were elected by both chapters from 1212 to 1871, when the rights of St Patrick’s to elect were terminated.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Simon Cowling
12 days ago

But you wouldn”t be welcoming all Area Bishops on an equal footing if you decided ( as Sam Jones suggests ) to ditch one, would you?

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Ian
12 days ago

I think that Simon’s point is that each cathedral welcomes the diocesan bishop and area bishops as a collegial group. If there were to be a change in the number and configuration of episcopal areas, I assume that the cathedrals would still welcome the diocesan bishop, and area bishops who exercise episcopal ministry alongside them, on an equal basis.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Simon Cowling
11 days ago

I wonder therefore why the Dioceses Commission seems slow to consider the possibilities of further diocesan reorganisation?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  God 'elp us all
11 days ago

I can only assume it is due to the crushing dead weight of local bureaucratic vested interests and much private special pleading on their behalf.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Froghole
11 days ago

Or there’s the half-way house of sharing certain back office functions between dioceses which remain otherwise separate.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Simon Cowling
10 days ago

Every Irish bishop has a handful of cathedrals in his see. I don’t believe there are any suffragans in the CofI

EcclesiasticalBureaucrat
EcclesiasticalBureaucrat
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
8 days ago

I think that’s correct. Even the archbishops of Dublin and Armagh don’t have suffragans to assist with the running of their dioceses. However, the Church of Ireland is much smaller, with only around 450 parishes and 400 or so clergy (I think), which is about the size of a large C of E diocese, so 11 diocesan bishops seems quite a lot!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  EcclesiasticalBureaucrat
6 days ago

I’ve frequently seen this attitude in members of the C of E, used as they are to massive dioceses with hundreds of parishes and clergy. They don’t seem to understand that smaller diocesan size is very common in the rest of the Anglican world, and that those of us who have been nurtured in this form of church have learned to value it for the sense of community, and personal connection with our bishop, that it allows us. Here in the Diocese of Edmonton we have 44 parishes and I’m guessing about 50-60 active clergy, so we would be about… Read more »

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
11 days ago

I do not know the situation in the UK in detail but I should think a suffragan bishop would have a seat and hence a cathedral (surely for historic Wakefield). Here in the vast Sydney Diocese not all of the regions have a cathedral but two do, the major urban centres of Parramatta and Wollongong, even if they don’t have much going on within them that is recognizably Anglican in forms of worship and breadth of theology.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  John Bunyan
11 days ago

Hello John. I remember that, in my day in NSW, Parramatta and Wollongong had Pro-Cathedrals, and according to [1] they are still called that. I also recall that the Senior Canon (= Dean, approximately) of the one in Parramatta was Kenneth Loane, brother of Archbishop Marcus Loane. Kenneth, though older than Marcus, long predeceased him. The Loanes were a Tasmanian family. There was an unsuccessful campaign for a separate Diocese of Wollongong fifty or so years ago. I think that the chief difficulty was that a Diocese of Wollongong would have been viable only if a chunk of the southern… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  John Bunyan
11 days ago

As a simple matter of fact suffragan bishops (in England at least) do not have a cathedra (an epispcopal seat or throne). They are members of the diocesan College of Canons and have a stall in the cathedral like any other canon, but it is not a cathedra, any more than my stall in the cathedral is a cathedra. The diocesan see of Wakefield was extinguished a decade ago, and the current suffragan see is a different legal entity. It is not the same as the former see, though it continues the name and at least some of the emotional… Read more »

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
11 days ago

‘Emotional history.’ That has been my point against Sam Jones’s comment. I unerstand the legalities,even though i regret them.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Ian
10 days ago

The report of the Dioceses Commission 2022 (GS Misc 1331): https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-03/gs_misc_1331_dioceses_commission_annual_report_2022_1.pdf indicates: It seeks to ensure that any proposal to fill suffragan sees should make sense in the current financial climate … In the period of review it considered 13 submissions for Suffragans and approved them all. Having read (well, glanced over!) Colin Podmore’s 2008 paper related to the Commission’s work: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2022-01/dcr3-podmore-2008.pdf and the papers related to the creation of what became the Leeds Diocese, on the Commissions website: https://www.churchofengland.org/about/general-synod/committees-and-commissions/dioceses-commission I am starting to see why the Commission has little taste for the emotional ‘fight’ for economies at the top… Read more »

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