In its Declaration of May 2014, the House of Bishops made the point that these Guiding Principles ‘need to be read one with the other and held together in tension, rather than being applied selectively’. Thus, while affirming unequivocally that all orders of ministry are open to all without reference to gender, we also assert that those who are unable to receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women continue to be fully part of the life of our church – and not just for an interim or limited period.
Furthermore, the Declaration (in paragraphs 11 and 12) clearly envisages the possibility of there being diocesan bishops who might not ordain women, and indicates the arrangements which should be made in such circumstances. These arrangements are in a sense the mirror image to the provision made for those unable to receive the ministry of a woman bishop (or indeed of a male bishop who ordains women). It was precisely to meet circumstances such as the nomination of Bishop Philip that we made these provisions.
The settlement which we put in place in 2014 is, I believe, a structural expression of conviction and grace. It has in practice, as is clear from across our own Diocese, enabled us to maintain a high level of fellowship across profoundly held differences of theological and ecclesiological conviction. In this context, my own view is that Bishop Philip’s nomination to the See of Sheffield was entirely consistent with the 2014 Declaration by the House of Bishops. That nomination must also have been made with the agreement of most (perhaps all) of the six Sheffield Diocesan representatives on the Crown Nominations Commission. I note also the number of senior ordained women who have made public their support for Bishop Philip.