The Consecration of Bishops

Posted on the 20th Jun 2014

Forward in Faith is grateful to the Archbishops for the attention they have given to the question of how bishops who will minister under the House of Bishops’ Declaration will be consecrated.


We welcome their recognition in GS Misc 1079 that special arrangements will be needed in respect of presidency and laying on of hands at some consecrations, in response to the theological convictions not merely of those to be consecrated but also of those to whom they will minister. We trust that all that is implied in the statement about the need for appropriate arrangements will be honoured.


The fifth of the guiding principles in the House of Bishops’ Declaration embodies a commitment to ‘pastoral and sacramental provision’, and paragraph 30 affirms ‘the importance of there continuing to be consecrations of bishops within the Church of England to enable such ministry to be provided’. If a female bishop were to preside or share in the laying on of hands at such consecrations, that would plainly frustrate their purpose. Male bishops who have joined in consecrating the women concerned will surely wish to show solidarity with them on such occasions.


We agree, naturally, with the statement which the Archbishops make regarding the exercise of their own ministry of ordination. We are pleased to note that the matter of presidency at ordination services has not been foreclosed, and we look forward to further consideration of this important question.



The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker



Marriage and Sexuality: A Statement by the Council of Bishops of The Society

Posted on the 26th Mar 2014

As bishops, we have a pastoral and teaching office, as ‘stewards of the mysteries of God’ whoare ‘called to serve and care for the flock of Christ’.


We endorse both the statement issued by the College of Bishops of the Church of England in response to the Pilling Report and the House of Bishops’ Statement of Pastoral Guidanceon Same-Sex Marriage.


We rejoice in the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people within the parts of Christ’s flock that are committed to our care. We wish to underline these words of the statement from the College of Bishops: ‘We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and the need to stand firm against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found. We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society.’


We uphold the Christian doctrine of marriage as set out in the liturgy and canons of the Church of England. The Church of England is only ‘part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’: as such, it would have no right to make fundamental changes to a sacrament that belongs to the whole Church.


We encourage our clergy and people to participate in the conversations about human sexuality that will be facilitated, contributing to them on the basis of catholic moral and pastoral theology, as well as of their own experience. We note that the outcome of the conversations is not predetermined.


As bishops of the Society we shall continue to reflect together on these issues, to pray about them, and to listen to the views of our clergy and people.


On behalf of the Council


The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Bishop of Pontefract

Chairman of the Council of Bishops


26 March 2014


For this and other news from the Society, see:


Women in the Episcopate: Reference to the Dioceses

Posted on the 17th Feb 2014

The diocesan synods will shortly be voting on the Women in the Episcopate legislation – a draft Measure and a draft Canon.


This legislation forms part of a package which also includes a House of Bishops’ Declaration (containing provisions that will replace Resolutions A and B and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod) and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure, both of which we warmly welcome.


Only the Measure and the Canon will be the subject of formal voting in the diocesan synods. When legislation is referred to the dioceses because it touches the sacraments of the Church, Forward in Faith believes that synod members should give their votes according to principle and conscience. For members of Forward in Faith that is likely to involve voting against the Measure and the Canon because, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. This will be the only opportunity for members of diocesan synods to vote on the principle in accordance with their theological convictions.


We wish to underline that in making this recommendation we are not seeking to hinder progress towards a final resolution of this issue. It is important that this is made clear in diocesan synod debates. We are conscious that at this stage in the process only simple majorities are required.


We were encouraged that, when members of the General Synod voted against the relevant parts of the legislation at the February group of sessions, the fact that they felt obliged to do so as a matter of integrity was widely accepted. We trust that similar understanding will be shown in the diocesan synods.


On behalf of the Council:



The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker          Dr Lindsay Newcombe           The Revd Ross Northing

Chairman                                            Lay Vice-Chairman                 Clerical Vice-Chairman



The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration

Posted on the 12th Feb 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).


Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.


We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.


We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):


‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’


We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.


The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.


  JONATHAN FULHAM                    LINDSAY NEWCOMBE              

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker            Dr Lindsay Newcombe

Chairman                                           Lay Vice-Chairman


12 February 2014


GS 1932 is available from this page:


Women in the Episcopate: Draft House of Bishops’ Declaration and Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations

Posted on the 17th Jan 2014

Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the House of Bishops’ report

(GS 1932 – available from


In commenting on the proposals in November we set out three matters that still needed to be resolved. We are grateful that two of them have been addressed: the draft Declaration now contains transitional provisions, and the House of Bishops’ Standing Orders will provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod support the amendment. We also welcome the other minor improvements which the House has made to the draft Declaration and Regulations.


However, we note that the draft Declaration does not address the third of the matters that we raised in November. Para. 42 of the Steering Committee’s report (GS 1924) pointed to the need for ‘an agreed way of proceeding’ with regard to ‘issues that will arise in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops’, including the ‘further and sharper issues that will arise in due course as and when there is a woman archbishop’. The Steering Committee was clear in envisaging ‘an overall, balanced package’ and that the dioceses should ‘vote on the legislation in the knowledge of how all the elements of the package fit together’ (para. 28).


It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole.


We also note the publication of a first draft of the Guidance Note for Bishops and Parishes (GS Misc 1064). Forward in Faith will study this closely.


  JONATHAN FULHAM                                    

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham                 








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