The Philip North Sheffield fiasco — and the question that simply wasn’t asked

Sep 15, 2017 by

by Paul Handley, Church Times:

THE botched nomination of the Rt Revd Philip North to the see of Sheffield in January this year stemmed from one simple omission, a review has found. It did not occur to anyone to ask whether the diocese would accept a diocesan bishop who did not ordain women as priests.

As a consequence, Bishop North, a traditionalist, mistakenly believed he had the support of the diocese. Five bruising weeks after his nomination was announced by Downing Street, he withdrew, stating: “The highly individualised nature of the attacks on me have been extremely hard to bear.”

A fortnight after Bishop North’s withdrawal, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York asked Sir Philip Mawer, a former secretary-general of the General Synod, to investigate what had happened and make recommendations for the future. His review was published on Friday morning.

Sir Philip is the independent reviewer appointed to ensure that those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops and priests continue to flourish within the Church of England according to the 2014 Settlement, which confirmed Five Guiding Principles — (in brief) that all orders of ministry are open to all, regardless of gender; that all who minister in the C of E must accept that this is the case; that this move is to be seen in relation to other Churches, some of which allow only men to be ordained; that those who cannot accept women’s ministry remain within the spectrum of Anglican teaching; and that this minority will be given pastoral and sacramental provision to enable them to contribute to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

As a consequence of Bishop North’s withdrawal, traditionalists have questioned the Church’s commitment to the 2014 settlement and these principles, asking whether a traditionalist can ever again become a diocesan bishop.

Read here 

[Editor’s note: towards the end of the article, Paul Handley says that Jane Patterson, on the CNC but from a conservative evangelical church in Sheffield, should have recused herself from the process. This is wrong: the Mawer report says: No criticism can be made of Ms Jane Patterson’s decision not to withdraw from the Sheffield CNC (see paragraphs 43 – 44 above).]

Read also:

Forward in Faith’s response to the Sheffield review

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

Church of England reconsiders whether to accept conservative bishops opposed to women’s ordination by Harry Farley, Christian Today

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