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Nominations Commission fails to agree a candidate for Bishop of Carlisle

15 December 2023

iStock

Aerial shot of Carlisle, taken in June this year

Aerial shot of Carlisle, taken in June this year

THE Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has not been able to agree on who should be the next Bishop of Carlisle, it was announced on Friday. A new nomination is unlikely to be made for more than a year.

In a statement, the Archbishop of York said that, “very sadly”, the CNC had “not been able to reach the level of consensus required to nominate a new Diocesan Bishop” for Carlisle.

“Over the course of the next months,” Archbishop Cottrell continued, “the Crown Nominations Commission will need to reflect, and make a decision about which stage it wishes to recommence the discernment process. This is not likely to be before the Spring of 2025.”

The Commission, which nominates diocesan bishops to the Crown, comprises both Archbishops, six representatives from the diocese, and six members of the General Synod.

The Standing Orders stipulate that a two-thirds majority must be reached for a new bishop to be nominated, meaning that, if five members vote against an appointment, it can, in effect, be blocked.

“Gold, frankincense, and, er . . . he’s standing in for now”The Synod elects three pairs of members from the House of Clergy and three from the Laity, and one from each pair sits on each CNC that meets (News, 16 July 2021). The most recent elections were held in July last year.

No reason has been given for why the CNC was unable to reach a consensus about whom to appoint.

Connections are being made, however, with the confrontational nature of the debate on the blessing of same-sex couples. The meeting about Carlisle was held on Wednesday and Thursday — just one day after the House of Bishops formally commended new prayers of blessing for same-sex couples (News, 12 December), thus triggering renewed calls for alternative episcopal arrangements for parishes that objected to the use of the prayers (News, 14 December).

Voting figures from the February debate on the topic show that four out of the six people elected to the CNC from each House voted against the motion.

The last time that a CNC failed to reach agreement was in 2015, for the diocese of Oxford (News, 22 May 2015).

Archbishop Cottrell confirmed that the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Revd Rob Saner-Haigh, would continue as Acting Bishop of Carlisle, a position that he has held since the retirement of the Rt Revd James Newcome (News, 14 July).

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