Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Statement by York on the consecration of a traditionalist bishop for Burnley

The Archbishop of York will delegate the consecration of a traditionalist bishop in his province to bishops who do not ordain women priests

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has today issued the following statement:

With great joy and thanksgiving the Church of England will, in the next two weeks, see the consecration of two fine priests, The Revd Libby Lane, and The Revd Philip North (pictured) as bishops, respectively, of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, and of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. Nothing should be allowed to constrain our joy, our prayers and our thanksgiving, on either occasion.

Consecration arrangements are in law a matter for the Archbishop of the relevant province. While they normally act as chief consecrator, and will continue to do so, Archbishops have always had the power to delegate the role on a particular occasion. This is something within their absolute discretion. (see  GS Misc 1079, below)  

Any suggestion that the arrangements proposed for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley are influenced by a theology of ‘taint’ would be mistaken.  I presided at the consecration of the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley, a Provincial Episcopal Visitor serving traditionalist parishes across the Dioceses of the Province of York.  I also presided at the Consecration of the present Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Martin Warner, when he was made Bishop of Whitby. There were no objections on either of these occasions, despite the fact that I have been ordaining women to the priesthood since I first became Bishop for Stepney in 1996.

The way in which the Archbishops will approach their responsibilities for consecrations will be shaped by the House of Bishops Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles. These principles were endorsed by the General Synod. The Working Group which prepared them said in 2013: “from our own discussions we are clear that there are elements within this vision which will cause discomfort for those on various sides of the argument. But they need to be read one with the other and held together in tension. We are perhaps at a moment when the only way forward is one which makes it difficult for anyone to claim outright victory.”

The Church of England itself is, as the first of the five principles, says “fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender”. At the same time it has affirmed, in the fourth of the principles, that:  “since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures.”

Those who hold such convictions are to give ‘due respect and canonical obedience’ to all those whom the Church of England has duly ordained and appointed to office and ‘must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter’ (principles one and two). Equally, the Church of England has committed to make ‘pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority’ (principle five).

In paragraph 30 of the Declaration the House of Bishops affirmed ‘the importance of there continuing to be consecrations of bishops within the Church of England to enable such ministry [that is to the minority] to be provided’ and said that ‘ the Archbishops will ensure that a suitable supply of bishops continues.

On Monday 17th November, during the November 2014 Group of Sessions of General Synod, I moved that the Amending Canon No 33 (GS1926 D) be made, promulged, and executed. The Canon was the last part of the process paving the way for women to be consecrated Bishop.

On the Thursday 19th November, I met with Revd Philip North to discuss with him how his consecration would be handled given his theological convictions about the consecration of women to the episcopate. What I offered is covered in detail in a Pastoral Letter I subsequently sent to all Bishops of the northern Province. I would like to make it clear that these arrangements were offered at my suggestion and not at Philip North’s request. Any suggestions to the contrary are mistaken. The Revd Philip North is not the sort of priest who would insist on a particular set of arrangements for his consecration. He truly gives “due respect and canonical obedience” to all to whom oaths are taken.

This is a version of the notes giving details of the Consecration which I sent to the northern Bishops in December:

Arrangements for the Episcopal Ordination and Consecration of Revd Philip North on Monday 2 February 2015 in York Minster

1.      It is fully accepted that these arrangements remain the prerogative of the Archbishop of York and any variation from present custom implies no compromise to the Archbishop’s jurisdiction or authority to act in the matter of consecration.

2.      The arrangements that are outlined below are not binding on the Archbishop now or in the future. However, in seeking to build a future based on trust, mutual respect and the highest degree of communion possible, it is hoped that these arrangements will begin to shape good practice and custom.

3.      The Archbishop will be recognised throughout the liturgy as the Metropolitan, presiding with pastoral care and wise oversight over the household of faith.

4.      The oath of canonical obedience to the Archbishop will be reinstated into the liturgy and made by the candidate standing before the Archbishop. The Archbishop will also witness the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign before the service begins.

5.      The Archbishop will delegate to another bishop the authority to celebrate the Liturgy of Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. That bishop will exemplify commitment to the Five Guiding Principles and the flourishing of those whom the candidate for consecration will be able to serve sacramentally and with similar commitment to the whole of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

6.      The Archbishop will participate in the liturgy in appropriate ways (e.g. in receiving the Presentation of the candidate, preaching (at the request of the Revd Philip North), presenting the Episcopal Ring, and welcoming the newly ordained bishop, presenting the pastoral staff to the new bishop, and blessing the people).

7.      When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop on the basis of terms stated in para 5 (above), to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other Bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.

8.      The place and vesture of the Archbishop in the processions and in the liturgical arena of the Minster will demonstrate the jurisdiction and dignity of the office of the Metropolitan in the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York.

9.      Above all, we must be prompted to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 2.10) as the High Priest in whom alone we, as unworthy servants, are given access to the throne of grace.

10.    These arrangements are for prayer, not politics. We must ensure that our gathering is one of “humble prayer and fervent praise” (Charles Wesley).

It is in the nature of these arrangements, enshrined in the declaration and principles,  that they involve accommodating within one Church people with convictions that vary widely. If this accommodation is to work it requires a degree of gracious restraint and accommodation on all sides.

It is in this context my hope that we shall all, whatever our differing views, focus not on these, but upon prayer for these excellent candidates, and for God’s blessing upon them and upon the Dioceses of Chester and Blackburn where they will serve. In the meantime I look forward to celebrating with sisters and brothers from across the Communion at the Revd Libby Lane’s consecration on Monday.

+Sentamu Eboracensis



GS Misc 1079



Women in the Episcopate


A note from the Archbishops


1.       A year ago it was with some trepidation that the Synod was preparing to meet for the first time since the end of the unsuccessful legislative process the previous November. Now the situation looks very different. The facilitated conversations last July, the work of the Steering Committee last autumn, the imaginative decision for the revision process of the legislation to be committed to the whole Synod, and the large majorities in the November and February Group of Sessions, have created a new sense of hope and expectation.

2.      Since February all 43 dioceses that were able to consider the draft legislation have given their approval. In diocesan houses of clergy 90% of those who cast a vote supported the legislation and in the houses of laity 92% did so.

3.      In May, the House of Bishops made The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc1076), in the form welcomed by the Synod in February. The Declaration notes the significance of opening all orders of ministry equally to women and men and the opportunities this presents for building up the Body of Christ and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.

4.      The House amended its standing orders to provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless a draft of the proposed amendment has first been approved by two ­thirds majorities achieved in each House of the Synod. It also agreed the guidance note (GS Misc 1077) promised under paragraph 22 of the Declaration.

5.      In May we also consulted the House about two issues on which particular responsibilities fall to us by virtue of the offices that we hold. These concern the outworking of paragraph 30 of the Declaration in relation to consecration arrangements and the presence in the College of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship.

6.      On the first, we recognise that, once the episcopate is open equally to all irrespective of gender, there will be some bishops who will be unable in conscience to participate in the laying on of hands at some services. There will also be new bishops who, because of the theological convictions held by them and those to whom they will minister, will have concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration.

7.      Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services should be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.

8.      The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.

9.      As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration and to maintain the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.

10.     On the second issue touched on in paragraph 30, it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship. It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale.’

11.     We are therefore now consulting others with a view to ensuring that the aspiration is met within a matter of months. We recognise that, as stated in paragraph 30, such an appointment “is important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust”.

12.     In the light of the decisions already taken and these clarifications now offered we believe that the circumstances now exist for the Synod to approach the final stages of the legislative process in July in a spirit of generosity and hope. As each member weighs his or her own responsibility in relation to the final approval debate we need each to consider how we can contribute to the well-being and unity of the Church, and the fruitfulness of our response to God’s call.

13.     “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”



X  Justin Cantuar:                                          X Sentamu Eboracensis

June 2014



I GS 1650 – Talent And Calling; Recommendation 8 of the Report (in 4.4.1) reads: “We recommend that bishops should be asked to indicate which (if any) of those currently onthe List from their dioceses are from a conservative evangelical background. Bishops should be asked positively to look/or clergy from this constituency who might either be qualified for inclusion on the Preferment List or might be developed in such a way that they might be qualified later on. 

The Report’s recommendations were debated and endorsed at the July 2007 Group of Sessions. The voting was AYES: 297; NOES: 1. Those responsible were invited to give effect to the recommendations and the Archbishops’ Council was asked to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation. GS 1680, which reported back to Synod in February 2008, did not address this particular recommendation.

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