Bishop of Burnley installation: Vicar makes silent protest

Reverend Philip North
Image caption The Reverend Philip North will be consecrated at York Minster on 2 February

A Blackburn vicar has held a 10-minute silence in protest over the forthcoming installation of the Bishop of Burnley.

Changes have been made to the Reverend Philip North's ceremony because of his opposition to female bishops.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said the arrangements were made "for prayer, not politics".

The Reverend Anne Morris, who serves the same diocese as Mr North, replaced her sermon with the protest over the changes, at St Oswalds in Knuzden.

Dr Sentamu, has said he will not take part in the "laying on of hands" - a traditional part of the ordination service - during Mr North's ceremony at York Minster in February.

On Friday, he said his decision was not due to a "theology of taint".

Some within the Church of England believe he would be "tainted" because he will be consecrating the Church's first woman bishop, the Reverend Libby Lane, as Bishop of Stockport on Monday, a week before Mr North's ceremony.

However, Dr Sentamu said he had the power to "delegate" part of his role as chief consecrator, citing the examples of two traditionalist bishops he had consecrated "despite the fact that I have been ordaining women to the priesthood since I first became Bishop for Stepney in 1996".

Image caption The silence took the place of Ms Morris's regular sermon at St Oswalds Church

St Oswalds' church warden Alison Critchley said Ms Morris had been supported in her protest by parishioners and children at the church's Sunday school had also written letters to the bishop about the protest.

She said women in the Church of England felt like "second class citizens in a church that should be united".

"If [Mr North] wants that position in the Church, he should do it like everyone else does," she said.

She added that she would not take communion from the bishop if he were to lead a service at the church.

Image caption Children at the church's Sunday school have written letters to the bishop about the protest

Discussing the issue on BBC Radio Lancashire, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Julian Henderson, said he believed the arrangements were correct.

He said there was "space in the Church of England for different points of view, particularly in relation to the issue of women in leadership".

He added the Diocese of Blackburn was a "place where people can come and thrive in their ministry, whether they are men or women".

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

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