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Bishops Philip North and Libby Lane together with the Archbishop of York

Exacerbating the credibility crisis

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 9 Mar 2017

Lee Gatiss responds to the news that Philip North has been forced to withdraw his nomination as Bishop of Sheffield.

It it with regret that we have today heard that Philip North, suffragan Bishop of Burnley, has chosen not to accept his nomination as diocesan Bishop of Sheffield. The circumstances surrounding his withdrawal exacerbate the already acute credibility crisis for the Church of England, especially in its treatment of those with traditional Christian views. What now does ‘flourishing’ mean?

Bishop Philip is highly regarded by many across the Church, including by many female priests, and has led the way in showing how the Church can be a place where all may flourish, regardless of their position on the ordination and consecration of women. The fact that he has been forced to step down by a vocal minority calls into question the ability of those who hold a traditional position on the ordination of women to flourish within the Church of England, as promised in the “five guiding principles.”

Church Society calls on the Archbishops and those in senior leadership positions within the Church to make it clear both in words and actions that such bullying is unacceptable, and that they will ensure that all positions in the Church — including the position of Diocesan Bishop — truly remain open to those who take a conservative line.

We assure Bishop Philip, the Archbishop of York, and the Diocese of Sheffield, that they remain in our prayers.

Revd Dr Lee Gatiss is the Director of Church Society.

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