Women bishops row heats up in Chichester

CHICHESTER’S new bishop has been slammed by local clergy after helping to defeat the General Synod measure calling for the ordination of woman bishops.

One church minister was so angry, he boycotted the enthronement ceremony for the 103rd bishop on Sunday.

“All of my friends and most of those I work among simply do not understand, or accept, obscure arguments proffered by a minute, unrepresentative group,” said the Rev Chris Boxley, vicar of Heyshott.

“I would like to live out the remaining days of my ministry in a church that has credibility in a world where men and women are equal and each has the widest possible opportunity to fulfil their potential, in a way that is not denied to either.”

The Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner was one of three bishops who voted down the measure last Tuesday.

And although the diocese remained tight-lipped this week over news the vicar had snubbed the event at Chichester Cathedral, in an interview with the Observer before his enthronement Dr Warner rejected the implication his vote implied women were inferior to men.

“I would be ashamed if you found the evidence for that in anything that I have done, in any way in which I have behaved,” he said.

But Rev Boxley said he was one of the vast majority of people who wanted to see women accepted as bishops, but he served in a diocese where the ‘traditionalist’ minority was sadly heavily represented by bishops, who had been, and were, at the forefront in leading the small group against it.

“On the retirement of John Hind, the last bishop of Chichester, a committee was appointed to help recommend what kind of bishop people would like.

“Again, the overwhelming majority expressed the wish for someone who is not ‘traditionalist’ in the sense of being against women priests and bishops, and who is representative of the mainstream of the Church of England.”