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Bishopric of Chichester: the appointment and the welcome

16 May 2012


From the Revd Paul Benfield

Sir, — I am sorry that Ronald Rodger Caseby finds the appoint­ment of Dr Martin Warner to Chi­chester un­palatable (Letters, 11 May). The disappointment felt by some in Chichester will be similar to the disappointment felt by traditional­ists in Salisbury who find that they have a diocesan bishop who not only supports the ordina­tion of women, but also gay mar­riage. In a broad Church, not everyone will agree with his or her diocesan bishop.

Mr Caseby argues that “those who sanctioned his appointment must have known the grief it would cause Chichester Anglicans.” The appointment was approved by the Queen after the Crown Nomina­tions Commission (CNC) for­warded his name to the Prime Minister. Apart from the two archbishops, the voting members of that body are all elected, thus providing the demo­cracy that Mr Casey thinks so im­portant. Six members of the CNC were elected by (and members of) the Chichester vacancy-in-see committee (the majority of whose members are also elected), which drew up the State­ment of Needs of the diocese. That document included the requirement that the next Bishop should have a “commitment to maintaining orthodoxy in belief and morals” and should have “the personal strength and spiritual wisdom to lead a diocese with a considerable level of hurt and anxiety on both sides of the issue of whether women should be ordained to the priesthood”.

Mr Caseby goes on to argue that “if the new Bishop of Chichester, or any other in England, refuses to implement the will of the majority over women bishops then he should be dismissed for gross negligence of duty and for the breaking of his oath to the Queen, the Church’s Supreme Governor.”

Any bishop who fails to follow the law should be dealt with under the Clergy Discipline Measure or by judicial review. The legislation on women bishops will, if passed, simply be permissive, however. It will not require any bishop to or­dain a woman priest or consecrate a woman bishop.

St Nicholas’ Vicarage
Highbury Avenue
Fleetwood FY7 7DJ

From Canon Beaumont Brandie

Sir, — I write to assure your readers that the quasi-ethnic cleansing based on a winner-takes-all view of synodical government expressed by Mr Caseby does not represent the “majority of worshiping Anglicans” in the diocese of Chichester.

Whoever had been appointed would have disappointed some groups, but the well-attended public meetings showed no sign of the bitterness of his letter, but were conducted in amicability, despite the strongly held opinions of all present.

The democratically elected members of the vacancy-in-see committee and their elected repre­sentatives on the Crown Nomina­tions Commission came to the conclusion that only a traditionalist could hold this diocese together in mission and pastoral care, and that view has been reflected in the ap­pointment.

Like many others on the Catholic wing of our Church, I have no im­mediate use for “the opportunity of defecting with dignity to the Roman Catholic Church”, and I am sure that this is even truer for my Evan­gelical friends with their current considerable financial clout.

Unless I am very mistaken, the mood in this diocese is that, follow­ing on the advice of the House of Bishops’ meeting in May, and the votes in the July General Synod sessions, “the Established C of E organisation” will continue to be faithful to its heritage, in which all groups seek not to eliminate each other, but to work together to bring our nation to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

48 A’Becket Gardens
Worthing BN13 2BN

From the Revd Geoffrey Squire SSC

Sir, — I am surprised to note some of the comments concerning the appointment of Dr Martin Warner as Bishop of Chichester.

He was ordained in the same year as I, and in the same diocese, and I have known him throughout that time. His ministry has been quite outstanding, especially in relation to his position as Priest-Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady at Wal­singham, which was transformed during his period of office, especially in relation to Christian outreach to the young and Christian education.

The Church of England has to make up its mind: is it to continue to keep its promise of continuing to provide an honoured place for tra­ditionalists through the “period of reception” (i.e., until the whole Catholic Church is in agreement on the matter), or is it not?

It is no use telling traditionalists to “go to Rome” any more than telling “the other side” to join one of the Protestant denominations. We are all Anglicans, and wish to remain. Surely, therefore, the ap­point­ment of one diocesan bishop of traditionalist views (and a very good one) is both appropriate and fair, and will, I hope, help to keep the characteristic unity-in-diversity of the C of E intact.

Little Cross, Goodleigh
Barnstaple, Devon EX32 7NR

From the Revd Roger Calder SSC

Sir, — The Archbishop of York is right: Bishop Martin Warner is “a treasure”, and will be a loving Bishop and pastor to the entire diocese of Chichester, including Mr Caseby. Many of us, loyal Catholic Anglicans who have no wish to go down the route of the Ordinariate, are hugely encouraged that such an appointment is still possible. I, for one, congratulate those who have had the courage to make it.

There is no “cruelty” or “defiance” in Bishop Warner’s appointment, but simply an indication that promises made many years ago can — at least sometimes — be fulfilled.

St Saviour’s House
283 Twyford Avenue
Portsmouth PO2 8PB

From Mrs Sally Barnes

Sir, — I would like to point out that the “disappointment” referred to in the WATCH (Women and the Church) press release relating to the appointment of the Bishop of Chi­chester (the Revd Darren Moore, Letters, 11 May) was due to the fact that all three bishops in that diocese will continue with the practice of not ordaining women.

What does this suggest to the increasing numbers of people in Chichester who do support women priests and made representations for someone who would ordain them? The women-bishops Measure has been voted for by 42 out of 44 dio­ceses. It contains generous pro­visions for those who are against women bishops, and as such is supported by WATCH.

WATCH Media Officer
94 Hamilton Road
London NW11 9DY

From Rachel Moriarty

Sir, — It is worth explaining the disappointment felt by many in this diocese as well as in WATCH at the appointment of a “traditionalist” bishop to Chichester — regardless of the person chosen.

First, it is easy to forget that, while “protection” for “traditional” views provides generously for conscientious dissent, it is not an equivalent alternative position. Women priests are ordained in the Church of England; so it is hard to see how any diocesan bishop, however generous, can accept its discipline, and care for his women priests, when he cannot accept their sacramental ministry. This ambival­ence is damaging to everybody; after 20 years, we hoped for recognition for all our priests.

Second, the situation is incon­sistent, even hypocritical. When a bishop licenses and inducts a woman whose orders and sacra­ments he cannot accept, it must cast doubt on the integrity of the whole Church. Even an ordaining suffragan would, strictly speaking, be un­acceptable. All this seems to defy the claims of reason and theological coherence.

Chichester has lived with these contradictions for too long; it is disappointing that the Church has missed the opportunity to restore balance here, and, as many of us hoped, to allow women to take their place unequivocally alongside men throughout the diocese.

Member, Chichester diocesan synod, and National WATCH Committee
22 Westgate, Chichester PO19 3EU

From the Revd Lynn Grove

Sir, — It seems unfortunate that the appointment of Dr Martin Warner as Bishop of Chichester has been seen as an insult (Letters, 11 May).

As a woman priest in Cleveland archdeaconry of York diocese (Bishop Martin’s current post), I can only say that I have always felt affirmed, encouraged, and respected in my ministry. With a Bishop like this, we can indeed live with difference.

The Rectory, Old Byland
York YO62 5LG

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