Lancashire

Bishop of Burnley: Rt Rev Philip North consecrated

The ordination service for the Bishop of Burnley
Image caption The Bishop of Burnley's ordination service was led by the Archbishop of York at York Minster

A service to consecrate the new Bishop of Burnley that was changed to take into account his opposition to female bishops has taken place.

The Rt Rev Philip North's consecration was led by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at York Minster.

However, in a break from tradition, some parts of the service were overseen by the Bishop of Chichester.

Dr Sentamu said he had not led those parts of the service to "demonstrate respect" for the new bishop's views.

The service saw the Rt Rev Martin Warner lead two other bishops in "laying hands" on the new bishop.

The Bishop of Chichester also presided over the service's Communion, at the request of the archbishop.

'Gracious magnanimity'

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Dr Sentamu said he was "delegating, not abdicating" his position in the service and his decision was "not an indelible pattern to be adopted by me or anyone else in the future".

"I have decided to delegate part of my function at his ordination to other bishops who share his theological conviction regarding the ordination of women," he said.

"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."

Image caption Three bishops took part in the "laying on of hands" while others, including the Rt Rev Libby Lane (right) gathered in prayer

Speaking before the service, the Rt Rev North said "the thing about Anglicans is that we can hold difference together and we can hold very diverse views on all sorts of things and still work together".

He said that beginning with last week's consecration of the Church's first female bishop, the Rt Rev Libby Lane, "the Archbishop of York has set two wonderful precedents".

"First, he consecrated the first woman bishop, which was an occasion of really wonderful joy and was the answer to the prayers of many Anglicans," he said.

"My consecration sets another precedent, which is to make it possible that those who cannot accept this development in the Church's life to remain as loyal Anglicans."

He said that while only three bishops would take part in the "laying on of hands", that only showed that the Church was "honest".

"We are saying yes, there is a division here and there are different opinions on this, but we're also saying we can work around those opinions and still be one family."


Laying hands on a bishop

  • The laying on of hands is a part of the service of ordination for a bishop in the Church of England, which also includes the new bishop being anointed and being given the Bible
  • It signifies the passing of the Holy Spirit to the new bishop and is accompanied with a prayer
  • While at least two bishops must join with the Archbishop of the Province or his deputy in the act of ordination, other bishops may be invited to join in with the laying of hands on the new bishop's head

Source: Church of England


The Rt Rev North has become a suffragan - or assistant bishop - in the Diocese of Blackburn and replaces the Rt Rev John Goddard, who retired in July.

The bishop was born in north London and studied history at the University of York.

He has previously been forced to turn down an appointment as bishop because his new flock did not accept his views on the ordination of women.

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