Friday, 04 September 2015

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Bishop of Carlisle snubbed by two parishes because he ordains women

The Bishop of Carlisle is being snubbed by two of his parishes because he ordains women.

Decline: The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome

The Right Reverend James Newcome says he is disappointed by the decision not to introduce women bishops and has revealed two parishes in the diocese already refuse to “accept his authority” because of his views.

Bishop James spoke to The Cumberland News after legislation to introduce the first female bishops failed to clear a final hurdle.

The Church’s ruling General Synod failed to approve acceptance of women bishops by just six votes – any changes require a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses. Overall, the response was in favour of the proposal, but the lay house fell short of the two-thirds needed.

Bishop James said: “From a personal point of view, I am disappointed that the result was as it was, because I was one of the overwhelming number of bishops who voted in favour of the legislation.”

The vote was over proposals on how to introduce women bishops and incorporate them within the church, while making allowances for those people and parishes who do not agree with them.

“Oddly enough, we already have a similar situation,” Bishop James revealed. “There are two parishes within the Diocese of Carlisle who are not happy for me to go and do things for them, because I ordain women – and there are other parishes like that around the country. As far as they are concerned, I’m not true to the faith so they don’t really accept my authority.”

When it comes to those two parishes, which Bishop James does not name, he arranges for another bishop who “shares their theological convictions” to carry out the duties. He said this would be a similar process to allow for differing views in relation to women bishops.

However, Bishop James was quick to point out the argument was not one of equality.

“I don’t think anyone I have talked to who is against [women bishops] would say women aren’t equal to men,” he explained. “They are equal in the sight of God.

“Those people just say we should have different roles – as women have children and men don’t.”

The bishop was keen to stress that he does not share any of their views, either those based on the Bible interpretations of a woman’s role nor of the traditionalists.

The debate has threatened to divide the church, with people arguing that the 42 diocese who voted in favour have had their opinions overlooked.

Bishop James said the focus is on ensuring the Church remains united.

“We are keen to hold everybody together,” he added. “We will be taking it up and working very hard trying to get the legislation to a point where it can be accepted by everybody.”

He and Bishop of Penrith Robert Freeman have sent out messages to about 500 members of the clergy – both current and retired – expressing their understanding at their disappointment.

Bishop Robert said the decision would be a damaging one for the church.

He said: “Women would bring something important to the church. Men focus on the outcome of things rather than the process, whereas women can bring a much more social aspect to it and that would be very healthy.”

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who is also the University of Cumbria’s chancellor, was at the University of Cumbria graduation ceremony, where he spoke of his conviction that the legislation will one day be passed.

Carlisle vicar Eleanor Hancock described rules on women bishops as “a ridiculous glass ceiling that needs to be smashed”.

The priest in charge of the parish of the Holy Trinity felt “disappointment, upset and shock” at the Church of England decision.

“What we need to see happen now is for the momentum not to go away, for it to continue to be an item on the agenda of the Synod until the issue is resolved.”



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