Posted on the 31st Jul 2015 in the category Statements

Response by the Bishop of Wakefield


I welcome Sir Philip Mawer's report.  I am grateful for the care that he has taken in producing it, for his conclusions, and for his further thoughts.


Our aspiration is indeed to offer sacramental ministry to those placed under our oversight under the House of Bishops' Declaration "within the spirit of the Five Principles, with due sensitvity to the feeling of others, and with full regard to the lawful authority of the relevent diocesan bishop (whether male or female)".



The Red Revd Tony Robinson

Chairman of the Council of Bishops


Note: the Independent Reviewer's report is published here.

Posted on the 10th Jun 2015 in the category Statements

Statement by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society


It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham’s resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society. I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others.


Part of The Society’s purpose is to continue within the Church of England a tradition of sacramental theology and ministry that accords with the mind and practice of the great churches of East and West. We see this as our contribution both to the breadth and diversity of the Church of England and to the quest for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.


As a member of the Council of Bishops, the Bishop of Chichester will continue to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration to the clergy and people of The Society in his diocese.


We send Bishop Mark our good wishes for his future ministry.




The Rt Revd Tony Robinson



The Diocese of Chichester’s announcement is available here.

Posted on the 12th Feb 2015 in the category Statements

The Council of Bishops of The Society held its first residential meeting of the year on 10 and 11 February 2015.


After reviewing recent developments, we discussed a number of initiatives. Among these were more structured ways of publicizing vacancies and also of drawing to each other’s attention both vacancies and priests who are looking to move. We also hope to use modern mapping and database technology to help us to take a strategic overview of our parishes and priests.


The elections to the General Synod later this year will be an important opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of bishops, clergy and laypeople of The Society to responding to the invitation to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England.


We hope to arrange a series of residential meetings in 2016 to enable all our clergy to take counsel with their bishops on a diocesan or regional basis, as appropriate.


We also reflected on the recent consecrations in York. The presence of Bishops of The Society at the Bishop of Stockport’s consecration gave expression to our commitment to the five Guiding Principles which form part of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. The Bishops were there to honour the arrangements that provide for the flourishing of all in the Church of England, not least those who are committed to our care – even though they could not assent to the ordination by sharing in the laying on of hands.


On behalf of the Council of Bishops



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract



12 February 2015

Posted on the 27th Oct 2014 in the category Statements

Statement from the Council of Bishops
Statement from the Council of Bishops

Statement from the Council of Bishops


None of the bishops of The Society underestimates the searing grief that accompanies the breakdown of a marriage:  many of us have shared this grief within our own families.  The news that following divorce Bishop Jonathan Baker is to marry in a civil ceremony followed by a service of thanksgiving and dedication in church should draw the assurance of prayers from everyone, including from those who will be bewildered and unsettled by it.

Bishop Jonathan has diligently sought the permissions that the Church of England requires for him to marry again.  The Bishops of the Society reaffirm their commitment both to the Church's teaching on Christian marriage as a sacramental sign, and to the need for pastoral sensitivity and care both for those who are married and for those whose marriages fail.

Bishop Jonathan has been assured of our prayers.

On behalf of the Council of Bishops

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Posted on the 16th Jul 2014 in the category Statements

We invite you to read this Pastoral Letter, and make it available, in all our churches on Sunday 20 July 2014.


The approval of the Women Bishops legislation brings to an end a decade of debate about what provision should be made for those who are unable, for theological reasons, to receive the ministry of women as priests and bishops.


In the earlier stages of that debate we offered the Church of England a vision of how provision could be made with full ecclesiological integrity not just for us but also for the Church of England as a whole. It is now clear that the reality will be shaped differently, and will fall short of our ideal.


None the less, we believe that we can have confidence in our future as catholics who are called to live out our Christian vocation in the Church of England, maintaining a distinctive witness to the quest for the unity of the Church. The House of Bishops’ Declaration embodies a commitment to enabling us to flourish within the Church of England’s life and structures. It does so because our theological convictions about ministry and ordination remain within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition. As Resolution III.2 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference stated, ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.


The Declaration assures us that bishops will continue to be consecrated within the Church of England who can provide episcopal ministry that accords with our theological convictions. It makes provision for parishes to gain access to that episcopal ministry by passing a new resolution, supported by a Resolution of Disputes Procedure established by regulations made under Canon, with an Independent Reviewer. We will be offering advice and resources to parishes to assist with this.


We note that bishops’ authority to exercise episcopal functions comes from their ordination as bishops, and that that authority is distinct from the legal authority that they receive by delegation from the diocesan bishop. The debate over the nature of provision for our future life as catholics within the Church of England has helped us to focus on this important point with greater clarity.


The Society will have a crucial role to play in providing a continuing sacramental life in which parishes, clergy and people are in full and uninterrupted communion with the bishop who ministers to them, and with each other. We will ensure that parishes receive support in articulating the theological convictions that the Society exists to embody and, where necessary, in participating in the Resolution of Disputes Procedure.


As your bishops, we want to thank you for your faithfulness during this long period of uncertainty. Now that the debate about provision is over and the House of Bishops’ Declaration is in place, we can look forward to a time of greater stability in which, by the grace of almighty God, we can all focus, with renewed energy, on proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, and on witnessing to him as we serve our local communities and our nation.



On behalf of the Council of Bishops                         


+ TONY PONTEFRACT                                         

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson                                      The Commemoration of John Keble

Bishop of Pontefract                                                   Monday 14 July 2014




Heavenly Father,

Bless the bishops, clergy and people of The Society.

Bind us together in love and faith.

Renew us in service and witness.

And by your Holy Spirit

Guide our future and make plain your purposes.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Saint Wilfrid, pray for us.

Saint Hilda, pray for us.


Pastoral Letter (PDF) – for printing or linking to






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