On January 26, the Reverend Libby Lane will be consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Stockport at York Minster. On February 2, the Reverend Philip North will be consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Burnley in the Blackburn diocese.
Lane is the first woman bishop in the Church of England; North is a traditionalist who does not support the ordination of women as priests.
As a result, those bishops who were involved in the consecration of the Reverend Lane will not be part of the laying on of hands for the Reverend North’s consecration, and this will likely include the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson.
Although no-one from the Archbishop’s office, the diocesan office, the cathedral or the women’s ordination group WATCH would comment to Christian Today, a source said the confidential plans had caused “great upset” because they revived the concept of “taint”.
Effectively, it means the Church of England’s catholic wing is being allowed to preserve the traditionalist apostolic succession, creating a line of male bishops in perpetuity.
The source said: “We understand that there are only about three bishops who will actually be able to lay hands on Philip North because everyone else will have laid hands on Libby Lane the week before. It is very odd for all these bishops to be present at a consecration and yet just two or three lay on hands.”
Sources said no-one had been banned from laying hands on Bishop-elect North but bishops who will be at the consecration had been asked to exercise “gracious restraint”.
In December 2012, Fr. North was appointed as bishop of Whitby but withdrew his acceptance after controversy arose – he would have been the third traditionalist bishop in that position. Quoted in the Church Times:
The churchwarden of St Oswald’s Church, Lythe, in Whitby, John Secker, wrote a letter to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, dated 28 November, which gathered a number of signatories.
The letter said: “We are puzzled, dismayed and very disappointed that for the third time running we have been assigned a Bishop of Whitby who does not accept the ordination of women priests. . .
“We are aware that some parishes, some clergy, and some of the laity in the Whitby bishopric do not accept the validity of women priests but, as in the rest of the country, a substantial majority of us do. So why should we have to have a bishop who does not accept them? We assume that there must be some sort of rationale behind the decision, but you should be aware that many of us feel aggrieved and overlooked.”
In the past, bishops who have consecrated women priests in the Church of England have also consecrated traditionalist priests; this revival of restrictions seems to be in response to the CofE’s passing of the Canon to allow women bishops, and follows yesterday’s passage in Parliament of legislation to fast-track women bishops into the House of Lords (background), says Christian Today:
Although the former “provincial episcopal visitors” known as flying bishops were consecrated by bishops who had ordained women priests, such as Lord Carey, sources said the situation around this apparent contradiction changed the moment the Canon was passed allowing the consecration of women bishops. Following the passing of the Canon, every subsequent traditionalist bishop and priest must be ordained by bishops who are free of “taint”.
The move comes as MPs approved legislation yesterday to help fast-track female bishops into the House of Lords over the next decade, ensuring that female diocesan bishops will be first in line to succeed the present “Lords Spiritual” as they retire.
Posted by Cara Modisett