MORE than 50 clergy from the diocese of Blackburn have signed a
letter to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, urging him to ensure
that their next diocesan bishop will ordain women as priests.
The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which Dr Sentamu chairs,
met on 10 January, and is scheduled to meet again on 30 and 31
January, to nominate candidates for the see of Blackburn, which has
been vacant since the retirement of the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, in
the autumn. Bishop Reade and his predecessor, the Rt Revd Alan
Chesters, did not ordain women as priests.
The letter to Dr Sentamu, which has been signed by 55 clerics,
was co-ordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Revd Chris
Newlands. "Many churches across the diocese have been greatly
enriched by the ministry of women," he said, "and we believe that
to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of
Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the
diocese who hold his licence."
A spokesman for Forward in Faith said: "Forward in Faith expect
a candidate's views on the ordination of women to play no part in
the search for the right bishop with the right gifts, in accordance
with the Act of Synod."
Last month, the Revd Philip North, Team Rector in the Old St
Pancras Team Ministry, in London, withdrew his acceptance of his
nomination as Bishop of Whitby after protests at his opposition to
ordain women as bishops. He would have been the third opponent in
succession to hold the appointment (
News, 21 December).
The CNC is scheduled to meet on 11 March and 25/26 April to
nominate candidates for the see of Manchester, left vacant after
the retirement of the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch; on 8 May and 6/7
June to nominate candidates for the see of Durham, left vacant
after the appointment of the Rt Revd Justin Welby as Archbishop of
Canterbury; and on 18 July and 5/6 September to nominate candidates
for the see of Bath & Wells, which will be left vacant when the
Rt Revd Peter Price retires in June.