Yorkshire bishop wants a female successor

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A YORKSHIRE bishop says he would “love” to see a woman become his successor.

Bishop John Packer, head of the diocese of Ripon and Leeds, was speaking as the gender row in the Church of England continued to deepen following the resignation of traditionalist Anglo-Catholic clergyman Philip North, the 45-year old electee to the post of Bishop of Whitby, who walked out over the issue.

This was after the General Synod failed last month by a narrow margin to approve the ordination of women bishops.

Bishop John, a long-time champion of women in the clergy - and of modernisation of the church - said women bishops should be ordained “as soon as possible”, and he believes it is vital for the survival of the church.

“I should love for my successor to be a woman,” he said.

“I do believe that we will have women bishops by 2020 but I won’t be here by the time women are ordained.”

The diocese of Ripon and Leeds currently has around 50 women in ministry, the highest proportion of women deans in the country.

They include Archdeacon the venerable Janet Henderson - who works as Bishop John’s number two across Ripon and Leeds - and the new canon of Ripon Cathedral, Elizabeth Sewell.

“I have never seen any reason why we should have women priests but not women bishops,” Bishop John said.

“[The objections are] down to a particular reading of the bible and one or two texts.

“There are passages in the New Testament that do say that women should not be in authority over men in the church.

“But that was written 2,000 years ago for a particular group of people. We don’t know the group that Paul was writing to.

“We are now in a position in society and the church that in 18 years, [women] have demonstrated that they do have a powerful Ministry.

“I’m delighted that Ripon and Leeds has the highest proportion of women deans in England.”