THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will not lay on hands at the
consecration of the Bishop-elect of Burnley, Fr Philip North CMP,
In a statement released on Thursday, Dr Sentamu said that he,
and certain other bishops, would exercise "gracious restraint" at
the laying-on of hands during the Ordination Prayer in Fr North's
Furthermore, Dr Sentamu will not celebrate the Liturgy of
Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Instead, he will
delegate these duties to another bishop, who is committed to the
"flourishing" of traditionalist Anglicans who oppose women bishops,
the statement said.
Dr Sentamu insisted that this break from normal procedure had
nothing to do with the so-called "theology of taint", and said that
it had been his suggestion, not Fr North's. Fr North, who was
previously Vicar of Old St Pancras in North London, is an
Anglo-Catholic who objects in conscience to the consecration of
women bishops (News, 14
The new arrangements are not binding on any future consecration,
Dr Sentamu said, and have been made in the light of the House of
Bishops' commitment to enable a "suitable supply" of bishops to
minister to Catholics and Evangelicals who cannot in conscience
accept the ministry of a woman bishop.
Burnley is not one of the sees created for 'flying bishops' or
Provincial Episcopal Visitors, but a suffragan see in the diocese
of Blackburn. Dr Sentamu's statement notes that he presided at the
consecration of the traditionalist flying bishop the Bishop of
Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, without any objection, although
Dr Sentamu had ordained women as priests since 1996.
In a statement, the pressure group WATCH (Women and the Church)
described their "dismay" at the new arrangements for Mr North's
consecration. "We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop
should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay
hands on a candidate, and not preside at the Eucharist.
"We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign
of a divided College and House of Bishops."
The Anglo-Catholic network Forward in Faith declined to comment
on Thursday, but an editorial in New Directions, their monthly
magazine, from February last year, addresses the question of
"The issue for us has never been about so-called 'taint' but
rather with a theology and communion," the editorial said. "For
example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act,
created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did
not ordain women.
"Communion can be broken, but it can also be restored. Our issue
has always been one of theology and sacramental assurance."
Dr Sentamu's statement explains how the consecration will work
in detail, and suggests that these new arrangements could shape the
custom of future consecrations.
Numerous references are made to the Five Guiding Principles,
agreed by the General Synod during the debates on women bishops. Fr
North will take an oath of canonical obedience to Dr Sentamu as his
Archbishop, and Dr Sentamu will be involved in other ways during
the service, such as preaching and presenting the episcopal
"These arrangements are for prayer, not politics," Dr Sentamu
said. "If this accommodation is to work it requires a degree of
gracious restraint and accommodation on all sides."