Louise Haigh, the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley, has written the following open letter to the newly appointed Bishop of Sheffield, Philip North. Concerns have been raised about his membership of a society which holds traditionalist views on the ordination of women.
Dear Bishop Philip,
I am writing both as a parishioner in Sheffield and as the MP for Sheffield, Heeley regarding your proposed appointment as the Bishop of Sheffield.
I know you will have received many hundreds, if not thousands, of private and public letters following your comments in the media through which you expressed your traditionalist views around women in the church.
As you will be more than aware, more than a third of Sheffield's clergy are women. I was born, baptised and confirmed in Sheffield, I have felt fortunate to have been Ministered to by two women priests and I am proud that the Church in Sheffield is a progressive actor not only on equality but on issues of economic injustice and poverty also.
So I am sure that your very proud record and your very welcome views on the latter issues were a primary factor in your nomination and appointment. I am also confident, however, from speaking to parishioners and clergy across Sheffield, that attitudes to women in the church are a major priority for our next Bishop.
As has been said elsewhere, your traditionalist views pose many questions about how your leadership in Sheffield will work practically in relation to existing women clergy, men who have been ordained by women, women who are in the process of becoming clergy and congregations who come from a completely different tradition within the church.
I understand you are currently on retreat and in a period of reflection but I would urge you to engage with those congregations and individuals within the church to answer these and many more questions that are troubling people in Sheffield and to establish if your views can possibly be reconciled with the pastoral and public image of the Church in Sheffield.
I look forward to discussing these concerns with you face to face soon.
Louise Haigh MP