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The Archbishops of the Church of England perpetuate the myth that diametrically opposed beliefs can coexist

The Archbishops of the Church of England perpetuate the myth that diametrically opposed beliefs can coexist

The Rt Revd Phillip North, bishop suffragan of Burnley.

The Archbishops of Canterbury & York have submitted the incident of the appointment of a Bishop diocesan for the Diocese of Sheffield to Sir Phillip Mawer, who is the Independent Reviewer set up by the agreement allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. The bottom line of the agreement was the concept of mutual flourishing. That is that folks in the CoE who supported the full ministry of women in the three ordained offices of the church, could live joyously, yea even thrive, side-by-side with folks in the CoE who do not accept the ministry of women. That was a happy fallacy until it came time to actually live the compromise.

As we have covered previously here, here & here, the CoE and the Crown Nominations scheme submitted, and HM the Queen approved, the Rt Revd Phillip North, bishop suffragan of Burnley, to be translated to the See of Sheffield to become its bishop diocesan. The idea was quickly criticized and condemned by progressives in English society and the English church. The ruckus was such that Bishop North withdrew his name from the appointment.

The Archbishops’ letter to Sir Phillip is published here. The Archbishops also issued a statement regarding their actions;

The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm 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.

Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.

+ Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis

The Archbishops are both intelligent men, how they believe that the compromise embedded in the agreement, the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, which allowed the consecration of women as bishops in the CoE, can withstand theological scrutiny is beyond understanding. It was a head-buried-in-the-sand movement when it was accepted in 2014.

The Archbishops’ statement is published on the ABC’s website. The photo is from the Café media library.


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D. Singh


On what authority do the archbishops attribute the status of ‘overriding’ to the undefined ‘mutual flourishing’?

Jeremy Bates

The five principles were a messy compromise when they were adopted. Indeed whenever one sets forth five guiding principles, there are likely to be conflicts among them, and unanswered questions about implementation.

Foreseeing the election of women as, wrongly, second-class bishops, some of us in 2014 urged that the compromise be rejected, Synod dissolved, and a new Synod elected.

It is no wonder that, having foisted five contradictory principles on the Church of England, the Archbishops now defer to an independent authority to describe what is wrong with them.

Katie Sherrod

The concept of “mutual flourishing” can exist only if those in charge are willing to throw women priests and those who desire to be ministered to by women under a double decker bus — which various ABCs have demonstrated themselves quite willing to do. They have had a lot of practice doing the same thing to LGBTQ priests. How does the ministry of a priest who is a woman “flourish” under the authority of a bishop who does not believe she is “proper matter” for ordination? How does such a bishop offer pastoral care to a priest who is a woman when he believes her ordination is not valid simply because she is a woman? How does a male priest who has been ordained by a bishop who is a woman “flourish” under a bishop who believes that the male priest’s ordination is not valid because he was touched by mitred female hands? (Although I suspect such male priests will have a much easier time of it, given the Church of England’s amazing levels of sheer breathtaking raw sexism.) I am no admirer of the bishops in The Episcopal Church who could not accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops, but I’ll say one thing for them — they had more integrity and intellectual honesty than this.

Bill Pearson

Well said.

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