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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Episcopal kindness

Readers will do doubt recall the letter sent by 50 clergy to the Archbishop of York demanding that the next Bishop of Blackburn must be prepared to ordain women. Their demands have been satisfied with the appointment of the Venerable Julian Henderson. Full details here. This has prompted one reader to comment: "This means that there will now be not a single diocesan in the Northern Province who does not ordain women. We can draw our own conclusions."

Commenting on his appointment Archdeacon Henderson said: "I am aware of different deeply held convictions around the diocese on the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate. Let me be clear, I am in favour of women serving as Bishops and will want to introduce a change in the current diocesan pattern by ordaining women as deacons and priests. But I hope my vote at General Synod last November will be a reassurance to those opposed to this development, that I want to be a figure of unity on this matter and will ensure there is an honoured place for both positions within the mainstream of the Church of England. Might Blackburn be a model for the rest of the Church of England!"

Welcome words with the best of intentions but if 'Blackburn is to be a model for the rest of the Church of England' that undermines the principle that "there will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood". The reality is that if appointments are to be made only from candidates who are prepared to ordain women, no matter how well intentioned we can look forward to extinction by kindness.  


  1. I'm sorry to be so negative, but I think that particular ship sailed quite a while ago. There's an obvious 'dislocation' (to put it as politely as I can) between the reality and the rhetoric designed for public consumption.It is an obvious test of the mettle and the influence of the new Archbishop of Canterbury as to whether future appointments will be as truly 'inclusive' as they are meant to be. We should never rule out a (surprising) change of heart on the part of the establishment but on past evidence, it wouldn't be advisable to hold our breath too long.

  2. Joseph Golightly2 March 2013 at 17:13

    Forward In Faith seem happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Is this a real change of position with a new Director??