Bishop Philip North

As many will know Bishop Philip North, currently Bishop of Burnley, has been announced as the next Bishop of Sheffield.  Following the announcement, Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, wrote a piece for Modern Church in which he suggested that Philip North should decline the offer because of the inherent conflict in being responsible for worship in the Diocese, whilst being a member of a society which believes that 1/3 of the Sheffield clergy are not able to consecrate communion validly.

This has understandably created a bit of a storm.  Those supporting Philip North have quoted the Five Guiding Principles (pdf) which say:

the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures;

(them being those who are “unable to receive the ministry of women Bishops or priests”)

but the same Guiding Principles also say:

those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;

Those who believe that women can’t be priests or Bishops are entitled to alternative episcopal oversight – what used to be flying Bishops.  One question that comes to mind is why can those who have a Bishop who does not believe that they are ordained not have similar alternative oversight?

I can see two answers to this question; one theological, in that the idea of flying Bishops does not fit with the theological role of Bishops, it is a practical fudge.  The other, more practical, is that if they were allowed, how many parishes would seek their oversight – and what becomes in a Diocese if more parishes are overseen by a flying Bishop than are not?  Who in reality is the Bishop, and who the flying Bishop?

One thought on “Bishop Philip North”

  1. The HoB declaration, from which the Five Guiding Principles came, makes it clear that in each diocese there should be at least one bishop who ordains women, and that this should have a bearing on appointments. Presumably women priests in Sheffield diocese will have “alternative oversight” (as far as ordinations go – as +Burnley, +Philip has worked closely with his female colleagues) from the Bishop of Doncaster?

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