ANGER and frustration has been voiced by church ministers across the Midhurst and Petworth area after the new bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner used his vote to help defeat a measure calling for the ordination of woman bishops.
The Rev Chris Boxley, vicar of Heyshott felt so strongly he did not attend a service of welcome for the new bishop in Midhurst Parish Church on Friday or his enthronement in Chichester Cathedral on Sunday.
He told the Observer: “All of my friends and most of those I work amongst simply do not understand, or accept, obscure arguments proffered by a minute, unrepresentative group. I would like to live out the remaining days of my ministry in a church that has credibility in a world where men and women are equal and each has the widest possible opportunity to fulfil their potential, in a way that is not denied to either.”
He said he was one of the vast majority of people who wanted to see women accepted as bishops but he served in a diocese where the ‘traditionalist’ minority was sadly heavily represented by bishops, who had been, and were, at the forefront in leading the small group against it.
“On the retirement of John Hind, the last bishop of Chichester, a committee was appointed to help recommend what kind of bishop people would like.
“Again, the overwhelming majority expressed the wish for someone who is not ‘traditionalist’ in the sense of being against women priests and bishops, and who is representative of the mainstream of the Church of England.
“I think the disappointment and anger at the way all these wishes were ignored in making the appointment, is a matter of public knowledge.
“Sadly, under these circumstances, where the diocese is once again welcoming a traditionalist bishop, and where that bishop had himself spoken as the leading person in opposition to women bishops last week, I did not feel I wanted to be either at his enthronement or at the service at Midhurst.”
Rural Dean of Midhurst Derek Welsman said he was aware members of the rural deanery were unhappy that the new bishop voted against the ordination of women bishops.
“A lot of people in this diocese wanted a bishop who would support women bishops and we were not listened to and that is a great sadness.”
“I have got to be optimistic and stay in the process because you have got to be part of it to be able to change it.
“The bishop and I have very opposing views on the ordination of woman, I hope he understands my view and I try to understand his.”
“When the General Synod asked all the dioceses to consider the ordination of women 42 out of 44 were in favour and the General Synod overturned that. That is where the anger and frustration is.
“I feel at the beginning of the 21st century to be debating the ordination of women bishops is unbelievable. The church is exempt from discrimination and I would say lets take that away. After all the Queen is the supreme head of the Church of England so the whole thing is a frustrating anomaly.”
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