THREE knocks on the door of Sheffield Cathedral marked the beginning of the installation of the city’s new bishop on Saturday - and the end of one of the most tumultuous periods in the Church of England’s recent history.
The Right Reverend Pete Wilcox followed the time-honoured tradition of knocking on the cathedral’s main door before being welcomed inside by the Dean of Sheffield, the Very Reverend Peter Bradley, during the ceremony.
Bishop Pete, as he prefers to be known, was appointed in April after Right Rev Philip North stepped down within weeks of his appointment because his traditionalist views on female clergy were at odds with those held by the Diocese of Sheffield.
Then, Bishop North, who opposes female priests on theological grounds, said he was stepping aside in the face of what he called personal attacks that were “too much to bear”.
Speaking ahead of his installation, Bishop Pete said: “I’ve always been a supporter of the ordination of women, both as priests and as bishops and it will be my pleasure to ordain women as well as men to the priesthood in this diocese.”
He added: “What I long for more than anything else is to see more and more people to come to the knowledge of the love god has shown to the world in and through the life of Jesus and I will be wanting to work with colleagues across the diocese in finding imaginative ways to make sure that the gospel lives.”
In preparation of his installation, Bishop Pete completed a 50-mile pilgrimage across South Yorkshire, meeting people and holding prayers en route.
The walk began last Monday in Rawcliffe, on the edge of the River Aire, and concluded on Friday with the final leg from Rotherham Central to Sheffield Cathedral.