Archbishops order probe into Sheffield bishop nomination controversy

Sat 25 Mar 2017
By Alex Williams

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have ordered an investigation into the controversy surrounding the nomination of a new Bishop of Sheffield.

An announcement in January 2017 that the Queen had accepted to nomination of Bishop of Burnley Rt Rev Philip North prompted a backlash from some factions of the Church who were unhappy about his refusal to ordain female clergy.

Later, Bishop Philip (pictured below) announced on 9th March 2017 he had withdrawn his acceptance of the nomination.

In an open letter, the Archbishops wrote: "We are conscious that in some of the discussion about the See of Sheffield, we have not always as a Church shown how we can disagree Christianly."

Church of England


Most Rev Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu have requested that an independent review explore how the events before and after the nomination of Bishop Philip correspond to a Church of England declaration which affirms the ministry of female clergy.

Writing to independent reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, they continued: "This sequence of events has prompted some in the Church to question whether the House of Bishops' Declaration of May 2014 and ...the commitment the Church made in it to "mutual flourishing", remain intact.

"...we affirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

"The Declaration formed a central element of the settlement by which we were able both to welcome women joyfully into all the orders of ministry in the Church, and also to continue to provide an honoured and permanent place in the Church for those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable, to receive the ministry of women bishops of priests."

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