New Bishop of Sheffield stands aside after 'highly individualised attacks' over his views on women priests
Philip North has withdrawn from the role of Bishop of Sheffield
By Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent
9 MARCH 2017
The new Bishop of Sheffield is to withdraw from the post after attacks from members of his new diocese over his view that women should not become priests.
The Rt Revd Philip North, 50, is currently Bishop of Burnley, but had been promoted to the new role as a diocesan bishop and was due to take on the role later this year.
In a statement he said: "The news of my nomination has elicited a strong reaction within the diocese and some areas of the wider Church.
"It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many."
He added: "There is clearly much to be done on what it means to disagree well and to live with theological difference in the Church of England.
"The highly individualised nature of the attacks upon me have been extremely hard to bear. If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love, how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the name of Christ?"
He would have been the first bishop appointed to a senior role who did not agree with women's ordination since the Church voted to allow women to become bishops in November 2014.
The bishop had withdrawn from public for a period of "prayer and reflection" and had not previously made any statements about the controversy.
Residents of the new diocese had urged him to stand aside over his views.
The controversy stems in part from his continued membership of a Church of England group known as the Society, which does not recognise women priests.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, had previously said that the church would support his appointment.
Last week he received support from 36 members of female clergy in the Blackburn diocese, as well as three women bishops.
But local groups in Sheffield had protested his appointment. A new group called Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality wrote an open letter saying it had left them "deeply troubled".
This is the second post he has withdrawn from after withdrawing from a nomination to be Bishop of Whitby in 2012.
An update on the Downing Street website said he had withdrawn "for personal reasons". The Archbishop of York is expected to make a new nomination for the post "in due course".
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