Recently, the Bishop assigned to the diocese of Sheffield has announced that it will not take up the post after mounting protests over his opposition to female priests and bishops.
Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, said in a statement on Thursday that he was obviously “my leadership will not be acceptable to many.”
This is the second time the North decided to take a meeting. In 2012 he accepted the post of Bishop of Whitby, but retreated to the side, two months after protests over his opposition to women in Ministry.
His decision to stay away, came two weeks after Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, publicly urged the North to reconsider their promotion to the diocesan Bishop, stating that his opposition to female priests would “cause significant pastoral and social harm of the Church.”
Opponent of women’s ordination appointed Bishop of Sheffield
Percy’s comments followed similar calls from clergy or laity, not least in Sheffield where a third of Anglican priests were women.
The North said: “It is with regret and sadness that I have decided that I are unable to consider candidates as the Bishop of Sheffield.
“The news of my nomination has caused a strong reaction in the diocese and parts of the wider Church. It is clear that the level of the feeling that my arrival would be counterproductive from the point of view of the Church’s mission in South Yorkshire, and that my guide will not be acceptable to many.”
He kept apologizing “for many for whom this decision will be a disappointment”, adding: “there is clearly much to be done about what’s OK to disagree and to live with spiritual difference in the Anglican Church.
“The highly personalized nature of the attacks on me was extremely difficult. If, as Christians, we can’t treat each other in love as we can imagine to transform the nation in the name of Christ? I hope, however, that this conversation can continue in the future without it hung on the shoulders of one person.”
North, a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic, said that he had spent the last few weeks in reflection and prayer before coming to his decision.
He assured the members of his diocese that he was “for women’s leadership and actively promote it.” However, it is known not to recognize the spiritual legitimacy of women priests or bishops or male priests who were ordained female Bishop.
Percy said, “I wrote to Bishop Philip privately in the light of this very difficult decision. My thoughts are with all involved in these testing times”.
“Women in the Church”, a group of campaigns With E on issues of gender equality, expressed “sympathy and concern for all involved in this situation – the diocese of Sheffield, its people and Church, and Bishop Philip.”
He added: “we know that all debate on the appointment not to ordain a Bishop in Sheffield deep was painful and contentious for everyone involved. We have always been clear that this is a theological debate and not a personal, but we know that’s not always how comments will be heard.”
Pressure groups, Sheffield action for gender equality of the Ministry, was formed to oppose the nomination of the North.
However, a number of women bishops offered their support, including the bishops of Dorking, Repton, and Newcastle.
• This article was amended on 10 March 2017. An earlier version said incorrectly that two thirds of Anglican priests in Sheffield women.