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Bishop Frith translated to Hereford See

18 July 2014

CONSERVATIVES and traditionalists who cannot accept women bishops will still flourish in the diocese of Hereford, its next Bishop has said.

The Bishop of Hull, the Rt Revd Richard Frith (right), will be the new Bishop of Hereford, it was announced on Tuesday. As a member of the General Synod, Bishop Frith has supported the principle of opening the episcopate to women.

"I have voted for women bishops all the way," Bishop Frith said on Tuesday, "but the five principles laid out by the House of Bishops are very clear - people who cannot accept women bishops will flourish, and I am totally committed to those principles.

"That said, my understanding is that the diocese of Hereford is overwhelmingly pro the ministry of women, and that's excellent."

Bishop Frith said that the Measure passed on Monday was a better way forward than earlier packages of legistlation. "I think it is undoubtedly true that we have ended up with a better law. It's been a pretty horrific journey, but I think we have all got reasons to be really encouraged."

Having spent 16 years in Humberside, Bishop Frith said that he would miss the opportunity to be an advocate on questions of social justice. He condemned the so-called "bedroom tax" during a debate in the General Synod last year.

"It's a big change: extremely daunting, but that is also part of the excitement of it. It will be different [in Hereford], but I know there are issues of rural poverty, and a dozen or so foodbanks in the diocese."

Bishop Frith's current see will become vacant towards the end of the year, when he is translated to Hereford, but he refused to be drawn on whether that could provide an opening for the first woman bishop: he was not privy to such discussions, he said.

Another imminent change to the College of Bishops would be the introduction of an Evangelical who believes in headship, as promised by the Archbishops last month (News, 17 June).

Bishop Frith said: "The Archbishops have made that commitment, and it is an important part of what is being put forward. There are conservative Evangelicals who are bishops - it is just this particular view [which is missing].

"The Anglican Church has always been a comprehensive Church - I believe that is our greatest strength. It can feel like our greatest weakness, but there is an enormous amount to gain from each other."

Bishop Frith, who is 65, trained at St John's College, Nottingham, before working as a parish priest in the dioceses of Southwark and then Bath & Wells. From 1991 to 1998, he was a Prebendary of Wells Cathedral, and then the Archdeacon of Taunton.

He is married to Kay and has four children and four step-children, plus seven grandchildren. In his leisure time, his main interests lie in cricket and the theatre.

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