Posted on the 8th Mar 2019 in the category Statements

The Council of Bishops has issued a Pastoral Letter, which the bishops invite the clergy to read, and make available, in their churches on Sunday 10 March 2019.


Pastoral Letter, Lent 2019

Posted on the 17th Dec 2018 in the category Statements

We are grateful to the House of Bishops for the clear pastoral concern shown in its recent Pastoral Guidance issued regarding the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition.


At the same time, we note concerns that have been expressed about the Pastoral Guidance. Among these is the concern that the Guidance could result in clergy being placed under pressure to conduct services that would raise issues of conscience for them.


We shall be asking for the reception of this Pastoral Guidance to be reviewed. 



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Chairman of the Council of Bishops

Posted on the 9th Mar 2017 in the category Statements

The Bishop of Wakefield has issued the following statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The Society.


We wish to express publicly our sympathy and concern for Bishop Philip and our understanding of the decision that he has felt compelled to take. The pressure on him over the past few weeks will have been enormous.


We share the disappointment of those of all persuasions in the Diocese of Sheffield and in the wider Church of England who were looking forward to his ministry as Bishop of Sheffield. It is a cause of great regret that the Church of England will not benefit from his leadership, and his advocacy for the poor and marginalised, as a diocesan bishop. 


The implications of what has happened for the stability of the settlement that enabled women to become bishops in the Church of England, and also for the integrity of the whole process whereby the Church of England discerns that God is calling someone to a diocesan see, are a cause of grave concern.


As we enter more deeply into Lent, a period of prayer and self-examination, we call on all concerned to engage not in mutual recrimination but in a period of calm reflection about how our church can recover from this wound.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Chairman of the Council of Bishops

Posted on the 28th Feb 2017 in the category Statements

The Bishop of Wakefield has issued the following statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The Society.


We are confident that the ministry of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield will make a very significant contribution to the life and mission of the Church. We have been delighted by the welcome that his nomination has received from representatives of a wide range of traditions in the Diocese of Sheffield and in the Church of England more widely. The support expressed by many female clergy who have experience of his ministry and gifts is especially encouraging. Their response gives grounds for hope that the Five Guiding Principles and the spirit of mutual flourishing that they embody have begun to permeate through the Church of England.


We have also noted critical comments. Some of them have referred to the cards that are issued to Priests of The Society. The card merely states, ‘Fr John Smith is a Priest of The Society’, and that it is only valid while the priest holds a benefice, licence or permission to officiate in the Church of England. The cards are no different from the membership cards that are issued by many organizations. They are not available to priests who have not chosen to become Priests of The Society. We understand that the way in which the cards have been described has created a different impression, and wish to express our regret at the offence that this has caused.


In our 2015 statement ‘A Catholic Life in the Church of England’ we said: ‘We reject any so-called “theology of taint” whereby a bishop who ordains women to the episcopate or the priesthood thereby invalidates his own orders and renders invalid the orders of those whom he subsequently ordains.’ We made it clear that priests ordained by such bishops are welcomed as Priests of The Society. We are disappointed that our beliefs continue to be misrepresented.


One of the many aspects of Bishop Philip’s ministry which is exemplary is the fact that he values, and works happily with, both female and male clergy of different traditions. As bishops of The Society, we expect its clergy and people to respect all whom the Church of England has ordained and appointed to office, and to work with them in a spirit of mutual flourishing. The Five Guiding Principles, to which we are wholeheartedly committed, require this not only of the rest of the Church of England but also of us.


The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the House of Bishops’ Declaration as ‘a promise to love one another’. We call on all involved in the discussions that have arisen to recommit themselves to that promise, as we do ourselves.


Tomorrow sees the beginning of Lent – a season of prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal. We hope that throughout this season people will continue to pray for Bishop Philip and the people of the Diocese of Sheffield.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Chairman of the Council of Bishops

Posted on the 31st Jan 2017 in the category Statements

Welcoming the news of the appointment of the next Bishop of Sheffield on behalf of The Society, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops, said:


'On behalf of The Society, its bishops, priests, deacons, readers, religious and lay people, I am delighted that Bishop Philip North has been chosen by representatives of the Diocese of Sheffield and the national Church to be the next Bishop of Sheffield.


This appointment shows the commitment of the Church of England to live within the Five Guiding Principles. Bishop Philip has shown a strong commitment to them in his own ministry, and has worked for the flourishing of clergy and parishes of all traditions in the Diocese of Blackburn.


Bishop Philip can be assured of our prayers and full support as he prepares to take up this new challenge. We will also pray for the Diocese of Sheffield as they welcome him and support him.'


Bishop Philip speaks about his appointment here:







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