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The Church of England and the criteria for episcopacy

by Michael Ford last modified 09 Jan, 2013 11:12 AM

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, has issued a statement about the criteria for the selection of bishops.

It is a matter of public record that for the last 18 months or so the House of Bishops has had two working parties considering matters of sexuality.

One, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, is reviewing the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. An interim report was received by the House of Bishops in December and the group are on track to report to the House in December 2013.

The other, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, considered the implications of civil partnerships in relation to the episcopate, something which had not been dealt with explicitly in the pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005.

In December the House of Bishops confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

This information has been available since the Summary of Decisions of the House of Bishops was posted on 18th December. It is good deal less dramatic than has been presented in the media in the last few days.

It might be helpful to note that other criteria are also used in the selection of bishops. The substance of this is contained in the service for the ordination and consecration of bishops who are called to care for Christ’s flock, to pray and love those committed to their care, especially the poor and outcast.

Bishops are the principal ministers of word and sacrament. They are to feed God’s pilgrim people and build up the Body of Christ. In this bishops have a care for truth, unity and the nurturing of the Church in the life of the Spirit.

On the announcement of his appointment as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Justin Welby said he hoped we would deal with our disputes lovingly. I add my Amen to that and am sure that in the Diocese of Salisbury we are able to do this.

+Nicholas Sarum

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