EMERGING through the great west
door of York Minster to be photographed, flanked by the Archbishop
of York, Dr Sentamu, and the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby
Lane, the new Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North,
reflected on a "wonderful expression of the unity of the
Consecrated on Monday, exactly
a week after Bishop Lane, Bishop North is the first traditionalist
bishop to be appointed since the passing of the women-bishops
Measure. His laughter with her on the steps - both were beaming in
the winter sun - was indicative of a jubilant atmosphere among the
many bishops present.
After receiving a long line of
people seeking his blessing (and at least one selfie), the new
Bishop spoke first of unity.
"We had all the bishops
together, including Bishop Libby, gathered around in prayer for the
Holy Spirit, and I got a real sense of the unity of the Church, and
of the precedents that have been set this last week: eight
extraordinary days in York Minster, which have seen the
consecration, to great joy amongst many Anglicans, of the first
woman, and then what's happened today, which has shown that there's
a future for those who in good conscience can't accept that
The appointment of a
traditionalist bishop had been "essential" for Anglo-Catholics, he
said: "The thing that traditionalists need . . . is a line of
bishops to whom they have access, and this is a very beautiful
covenant that the Archbishops have made with the Church, that wing
of the Church, to show that those promises will be honoured."
At the beginning of the
service, the Archbishop reiterated his explanation that he would
delegate the consecration itself to the Bishop of Chichester, Dr
Martin Warner, with a reminder that this decision was "mine, and
In the Yorkshire Post
that morning, Dr Sentamu wrote: "I find no validation for the
majority to overrule the theological convictions of a minority or
triumph over them. . . It is my prayer that the Church of England's
gracious magnanimity, restraint and respect for theological
convictions on this matter may help others to substitute love for
fear and hope for despair."
Dr Sentamu conducted the first
part of the service, receiving Bishop North's oath of canonical
obedience, and delivering a sermon in which he suggested that the
Church was suffering from a "crisis of powerlessness". Nothing but
a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit could save it from its
"spiritual sluggishness, lethargy and motionlessness", he said.
He then delegated the liturgy
of ordination to Dr Warner, who was invited to preside from the
primatial chair, and lay hands on Fr North, together with the
Bishops of Beverley and Pontefract.
The deacon at the service was
the Assistant Curate in the Moulsecoomb Team, the Revd Alice
Whalley, who served as a pastoral assistant in Bishop North's
London parish before he sponsored her for ordination.
"It was good to have a woman
very visible in that liturgy, in a very upfront role and
proclaiming the Gospel," Bishop North said. "And that's a sign
really of what we want, which is a Church where we can push
communion absolutely to the maximum and where our unity as God's
people outweighs any differences that may be between us."
The assent to the ordination
and consecration from the congregation was resounding. After the
presentation of the episcopal ring by Dr Sentamu, the welcome was
followed by a long round of applause.
The nave was packed. There were
students from St Stephen's House in their black-and-red college
scarves, and the Guardians of the Shrine of Walsingham in their
insignia and blue velvet mantles. Many bishops from both Provinces
were in attendance.
Speaking after a hearty rendition of the recessional hymn on
Monday - "Sing we of the blessed Mother" - Dr Warner described the
day as "a wonderful expression of putting into practice the five
Guiding Principles which are at the heart of the House of Bishops'
declaration. . . I think it has renewed our hope and confidence for
sharing the gospel and turning our attention to the world to share
with others the good news revealed of God in Jesus Christ."
Members of Forward in Faith
were told recently that "For the first time in over 25 years, we
won't be entering [the General Synod] elections labelled as being
anti-everything. Let's take up the opportunity to be constructive,
positive, and let's be proud of who we are (
News, 30 January)"
Asked about these comments,
Bishop North said: "We are for proclaiming Jesus in the midst of
his people. Therefore, we're with the poor and the oppressed and
the forgotten; we are with local people in local churches seeking
after Jesus in the eucharist: that's what we're for."
The Assistant Curate of Christ Church, Belper, the Revd Imogen
Black, was among a large contingent of priests present who had
trained at St Stephen's House, Oxford. She describes
herself an Anglo-Catholic who is "very close
to traditionalists in many ways, apart from fact that I
believe that women can be ordained".
"I was very glad to see a traditionalist bishop being
appointed," she said after the service. "I think it's been an
upsetting time for everyone, with all the arguments about
women being ordained and consecrated bishops, so it's been
affirming for everyone to see Bishop Libby consecrated and
then someone from the other integrity, because it shows the
Church of England is committed to working with both views, as it
said it would. . .
"Traditionalists can feel vulnerable, particularly when all this
is very new and we have to see it play out in practice, so it
is a comfort to see someone well-liked and respected being
made bishop at this time."
Speaking after the service, the Revd Dr Hannah Cleugh, Chaplain
at Durham University and a member of the Board of Affirming
Catholicism, said: "I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it
didn't feel peculiar, or exclusive, or like there was anything
particularly strange going on. The Archbishop of York very clearly
was in charge, and there were more women stood at the altar than
there were last week. It doesn't mean there are no theological
issues or questions left hanging, but it actually seemed fine in
the event. If this is what it takes for us all to flourish, then I
think I can live with it."