THE Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said this
week that it would be "bizarre" to reorganise the West Yorkshire
dioceses without a national debate.
The Dioceses Commission has suggested that Bradford, Ripon &
Leeds, and Wakefield be abolished and replaced by a single, larger
News, 10 December 2010). It will produce a final scheme later
this year (
News, 29 June), having undertaken an extensive consultation
with the dioceses concerned. The final scheme will not be submitted
to the General Synod before July 2013.
Wakefield diocesan synod passed a motion in July calling for the
House of Bishops "to facilitate a theologically informed debate"
about the "organisational shape" of the Church of England (News,
Writing in The Times on Saturday,
Bishop Platten said: "It is far from clear . . . that what we need
is fewer, larger dioceses. The aim of creating dioceses from the
very beginning was to give proper local pastoral care and identity
with one bishop as the focus. . .
"Although it is important for the Dioceses Commission to be
proactive, to allow it to change this local focus before there has
been any debate nationally about how bishops should be placed and
how they should minister seems bizarre."
Bishop Platten said that the "sort of principles [which] might
emerge" from the General Synod's debating the Wakefield motion
included the question why West Yorkshire should be restructured and
not seen "in the wider context of the whole of Yorkshire. . . Might
we not benefit from more smaller dioceses, albeit without
replicating new diocesan organisation?"
Speaking on Wednesday, the chairman of the Dioceses Commission,
Professor Michael Clarke (
Letters, 6 July) said that the Commission had been "charged by
the Archbishops to concentrate on areas of the country where we
could make a difference rather than [to conduct] a comprehensive
review". The consensus among the Bishops, he said, was that
"Yorkshire was the place to start. There was a view that that was
where the greatest problems lay." The question of the Synod's
debating the Wakefield diocesan motion was "quite separate".