The Introduction (paragraphs 1-4) stresses the bishops’ responsibility to build up the Body of Christ, promote peace and reconciliation in the Church, and unite its members in truth and love. They have ‘a duty to ensure that the welfare of the whole Church of England is sustained in all its theological depth and breadth’. These responsibilities prompt them to make this Declaration.
House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076)
1. The character and calling of the Church of England are set out in the Preface to the Declaration of Assent, which all clergy are required to make at ordination and subsequently on admission to any office. As part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church it is called to proclaim afresh in each generation the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds.
2. Those who serve the Church of England in holy orders are required to affirm their loyalty to this ‘inheritance of faith’ and bring ‘the grace and truth of Christ to this generation.’ Bishops have a particular responsibility to gather God's people and build up the Body of Christ. We have each promised at our consecration to promote peace and reconciliation in the Church and to seek to unite its members in a holy fellowship of truth and love.
3. The opening of all orders of ministry equally to women and men is a significant moment in the long history of this part of the Church Catholic. It brings with it new opportunities for building up the Body of Christ and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.
4. It also brings with it a particular responsibility for us, as a House of Bishops. As well as seeking to channel and nurture the energy and renewal that will flow from this development we have a duty to ensure that the welfare of the whole Church of England is sustained in all its theological depth and breadth. We accordingly commend this declaration to all members of the Church of England so that the good gifts that God has given to all His people may be used to His glory.