The Church of England Communication Office has issued the following response to an enquiry from The Guardian relating to Bishop Philip North.
Statement on Bishop Philip North
In response to an enquiry from the Guardian on 23 February 2017 on an article concerning Bishop Philip North the Church of England’s Communication office provided the following response:
“Many if not all of Martyn Percy’s arguments were raised and presented during and before the General Synod debates on this issue in 2014. In supporting the ordination of Women as Bishops the Synod overwhelmingly rejected these arguments and favoured a position of mutual flourishing for all in the Church.
As Martyn Percy’s article makes clear Bishop Philip has stated in a meeting to women clergy in the diocese that he is favour of women’s leadership and would actively promote it.
The beauty of the Church of England is its theological breadth and its ability to hold together disparate views across a range of issues whilst still finding unity in Jesus Christ.
The Church of England supports all orders of ministry being open equally, irrespective of gender, and remains committed to enabling all people to flourish within its life and structures.”
The Guardian article can be read here
The Guardian article entitled “Opponent of female priests urged to decline bishop of Sheffield post” states:
“A senior Church of England theologian has called on the newly appointed bishop of Sheffield to stand aside ahead of his consecration, saying his opposition to female priests will ’cause significant pastoral and public damage to the church’.
Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, urged Philip North to either renounce his membership of the Society, a C of E organisation that rejects female priests, or decline his nomination as bishop of Sheffield, which was announced last month.
Percy claims there is a “substantial amount of resistance building up” to North’s appointment, which he says would “represent the toleration of gender-based sectarianism”.
WATCH [Women and the Church] has issued a comment on “The Sheffield situation” in The Five Guiding Principles: Whose Flourishing do they serve?. However, a different point of view is put forward by the Revd Alice Whalley, whose Facebook response to the Guardian article is reproduced on the Quodcumque blog as The Bishop of Sheffield and Mutual Flourishing: a Guest Blog.
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I am surprised that nobody has yet picked up Bishop Philip’s use of the word “leadership” which he uses in relation to the ministry of women clergy. We already have many in “leadership” in the Church of England, including Readers of both sexes, who, of course are not ordained. Does this careful use of language mean that, according to Bishop Philip, the women lawfully ordained by the majority of Bishops in the Church of England cannot be considered to be priests?
If so, how can this contribute to “mutual flourishing”?
I doubt whether Bishop Philip would use weasel words to justify his ministry in the Sheffield diocese.
(This is an internal C of E dispute that I’m staying well out of.)
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