Former Norfolk priest withdraws from Bishop chance
A former priest from the Diocese of Norwich has withdrawn from his nomination as the new Bishop of Sheffield after a furore over his traditional views on women holding positions of church leadership.
The Rt Rev Philip North, current Bishop of Burnley, said: “The news of my nomination has elicited a strong reaction within the diocese and some areas of the wider Church. It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many.
“There is clearly much to be done on what it means to disagree well and to live with theological difference in the Church of England. The highly individualised nature of the attacks upon me have been extremely hard to bear. If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love, how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the name of Christ? I hope though that this conversation can continue in the future without it being hung upon the shoulders of one individual.”
Bishop Philip was Priest Administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham from 2002 to 2008 and from 2004 to 2007 he was also Priest-in-Charge of Hempton in the Diocese of Norwich. In 2012, he withdrew his acceptance of becoming the Bishop of Whitby for the same reason.
Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, had written an open letter to the incoming Rt Rev Philip North about what she calls his "troubling" views and asked for a meeting to discuss them.
Reacting to the news, the Bishop of Repton and former Archdeacon of Norwich, Rt Rev Jan McFarlane, tweeted: “A sad day for the Church of England. Not very proud of us today.”
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who made the nomination, said: “What has happened to Bishop Philip clearly does not reflect the settlement under which, two and a half years ago, the Church of England joyfully and decisively opened up all orders of ministry to men and women. It also made a commitment to mutual flourishing: that those who ‘on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests, will continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion’.”
Read the official Church of England statement