New Sheffield bishop ‘getting on with his job’ amid objections

31 Jan 2017...The new Bishop of Sheffield Rt Revd Philip North. Picture Scott Merrylees

31 Jan 2017...The new Bishop of Sheffield Rt Revd Philip North. Picture Scott Merrylees

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The cleric in line to be Sheffield’s next bishop is ‘getting on with his job’ amid continuing disquiet over his opposition to women becoming priests.

The Rt Rev Philip North is facing calls to engage in ‘face- to-face’ discussion with clergy, parishioners and other interested parties ahead of his election, expected to take place in York next month.

Signatures are being gathered on a letter to Mr North, circulated by the Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality group, urging him to hold talks soon.

Yesterday the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, spoke out again, urging Mr North to decline his new role, which is effectively a promotion from his post as Bishop of Burnley.

“He will be the cause of division, and cannot bring unity,” said Mr Percy.

A spokesman for Mr North said Sheffield’s bishop designate was focusing on his responsibilities in Burnley.

“He is getting on with his job,” he said.

Mr North is set to travel to Rome next week for an engagement at the Vatican alongside the Rt Rev Libby Lane, the Bishop of Stockport, who in 2015 was the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England.

“They’re going together,” the spokesman said.

“He has a full diary of engagements all around Lancashire.”

Mr Percy said he wanted Mr North to distance himself from ‘The Society’ - a C of E organisation that believes women should not be priests.

“And if he can’t or won’t do this, he is not the right person to lead and unite the Diocese of Sheffield,” he said.

n Visit https://shefminequal.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/a-pastoral-letter-to-philip-north1.pdf to see the letter.