Monday, 17 December 2012

Whitby: Archbishop of York expresses 'great disappointment'

The Archbishop of York has expressed his sadness and disappointment over Fr Philip North's decision not to take up the post of Bishop of Whitby [from the Diocese of York website here]
"...Yesterday, Archbishop Sentamu wrote to all clergy and Readers in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland to say, "It is with sadness that I have heard from Revd Philip North of his decision to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Whitby.
"This has come as a great disappointment to me personally and I am sure to many in the wider church, the Diocese and the Archdeaconry of Cleveland.
"Philip North is not a single-issue priest. As a gifted pastor-teacher he is deeply committed to the flourishing of the diverse ministries of all God’s people - lay and ordained. His dynamic vision for making Christ visible in mission and ministry, as well as serving the poor, would have been a great asset to us all..."
However, news is circulating that Fr North's decision may have been partly influenced by highly vocal opposition and  a petition in the Cleveland area protesting at his appointment. 
If this is true (and I very much hope it isn't *) then both traditionalists and the Church itself have grave problems ahead in the face of a ferocious and concerted liberalism which is intent on driving out all opposition from positions of influence in revenge for the failure of the recent synodical legislation. Petitions don't happen by accident: they are organised....

Also a BBC report [here

*Updated: Thanks to this comment received on a previous post for a link from the Church Times confirming the story about opposition to the appointment. Again, my thanks to a further comment on this post for the link to John Bingham's report [here] in The Telegraph which supplies further information. 


  1. Fr North withdrew, he said, because he could not be a focus for Unity; a noble stand. Are we to expect a similar decision from any woman apppointed as bishop who cannot be such a focus?

  2. It is indeed a very noble stand, Fr Edwin.

    I'm afraid, Fr Michael, that your fears about a petition are quite true. The comments reported in this Telegraph article make that quite clear. The people who organised the petition are glad that they won't be seeing Philip North any time soon.

    That, I think, is a rather less noble stand. It is, however, the future of the Church of England. I for one am glad not to be "better together" in that particular situation.

  3. I suppose I fall under the 'Affirming Catholic' rubric and I am in a different province of the Communion. It is strikingly obvious to me, however, that the CofE has lost one who would have been an excellent bishop. A cause for great sadness.

  4. A dreadful business. Fr North is clearly a man of honour & principle. The same can not be said of those who organised the campaign against him, who clearly believe that the role of the bishop is to agree with them on all points, esp. when it comes to placing the values of the culture & the age above the traditional teachings of the Church ...

  5. I regret Fr North's decision and along with others (on the basis of a passing acquaintance with him) think that he would make an excellent bishop.

    But clearly not yet. The more I think about his sincere statement that he would not be a focus for unity, the more I am disappointed that he expects to find unity already, rather than create unity from disunity.

    It does seem that there has been some pre-emptive opposition to his appointment, to which he has reacted. If this is the case, it would be his job as a bishop (together with the Archbishop) to create a unity of faith and understanding across the existing divide.

    The same thing happened here when I was appointed nearly seven years ago. The parish had a very strong Credo Cymru (FiF Welsh-style) contingent, and some of them objected to my appointment as a priest who did not agree with them. We have found common ground in our commitment to the gospel and especially in the openness of our parishes to all. I am not perfect, and I dare say neither are the parishioners, but with God's help we have made a good go of it together.

    A bishop's job is the same although writ large. The new bishop will have to make himself an instrument of unity, because without him there will be division. If Fr North does not feel ready or able to do this, he is not yet ready to be a bishop.


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