My last letter regarding Philip North was overtaken by events and not published, but although it is important to move on following his withdrawal from his proposed appointment I would like to make two brief points in response to Michael Meehan’s letter in the Star of March 20.
First of all, those who opposed the appointment did not do so because of differing views, but they consider that Bishop North’s beliefs about the ordination of women would have inevitably resulted in him discriminating against female clergy as he does not consider their ordination to be valid. These beliefs have been accepted by the Church of England and there are many ways in which those holding them can serve the church, but they are incompatible with the post of diocesan bishop due to the nature and responsibilities of the role.
Secondly, I am uncertain what exactly Mr Meehan means by ‘incomprehensible language’, but if he is referring to claims of personal attacks on Philip North, I have to say that I have not come across any in the numerous emails, Facebook posts and letters I have seen on the subject. Any news item seems to attract some unsavoury social media comments these days, but if they have occurred in this case they have not come from anyone with a real interest in the matter. All comments have related to concerns over potential discrimination and the wider perception of the appointment.
Finally, I want to make it clear that I and others with similar views have great sympathy with Philip North and are sad that those who made the initial appointment put him in a position which resulted in him having to make such a heartbreaking decision.
Apologies are not due from those who have stood up against discrimination, but from those in the hierarchy of the Church of England who thought they could ‘get away’ with the appointment without the inevitable reaction. I respect Philip North for making the right decision to withdraw from his appointment and hope he is given the opportunity to use his many gifts and abilities in a more appropriate way.