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The fuss about plans for the consecration of the next Bishop of Burnley

30 January 2015


From Canon Judith Maltby

Sir, - Rumours circulating before Christmas ( News, 23 January) are now confirmed: the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will not be the chief consecrator and eucharistic president at the consecration of the new Bishop of Burnley.

Not only does this depart from the usual custom of archbishops' consecrating all bishops of their province, including the Provincial Episcopal Visitors: the Five Guiding Principles state emphatically that "pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made . . . in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England."

It is hard to see how "the highest possible degree of communion" is maintained or "mutual flourishing" is fostered if the archbishop of the province in which any new bishop is to minister and whose episcope he or she is to share, was considered in any way to be inappropriate as the chief consecrator and celebrant. Potential ordinands and ordinands in training are now being required to assent to the Five Guiding Principles as a condition of selection and ordination, as are those in consideration for episcopal diocesan ministry. Are they being asked to assent that this particular interpretation is encompassed within the Five Guiding Principles?

I have no doubt that the Archbishop is acting as he thinks right. But I also have no doubt that the Burnley Interpretation of the Five Guiding Principles is one to which the considerable majority of the Church of England, the General Synod, laity, ordinands, clergy, and the College of Bishops would not be able to give their assent: at the first real test, the Five Guiding Principles have fallen.

Synod member (Universities)
Corpus Christi College
Oxford OX1 4JF


From Celia Bush

Sir, - I hope that members of WATCH who are trying to stir up trouble about the forthcoming consecration of Fr Philip North as Bishop of Burnley will read with care the admirable statement issued by the Archbishop of York on his website, www.archbishopofyork.org, and that they will hang their heads in shame. Having rushed in to criticise, they have also by implication insulted the first female bishop to be consecrated, by implying that the Archbishop is not playing fair over consecrations.

Sadly, it shows that acceptance of the inclusive Church that has been promised is not even skin-deep in some quarters. But why am I not surprised?

Celia Bush
169 Humber Doucy Lane
Ipswich IP4 3PA

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