Get ready for the next wave of converts

SIR – I first had the privilege of meeting the present Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North, 20-odd years ago when he was the very effective Anglican shrine priest at Walsingham. Even then it was obvious that his undoubted skills and spirituality would propel him up the ecclesiastical ladder of the Church of England, although he was always a convinced traditional Anglo-Catholic.

It is telling that, not for the first time, Bishop North has been forced to decline a bishopric – this time of Sheffield – because of his principled opposition to women priests (Leading article, March 17). His honourable withdrawal in the face of appalling opposition demonstrates that the official position that the Church of England recognises – of two “integrities”, both in favour of and opposed to women’s ordination – is a liberal fiction, and those of a more Catholic conviction will always now be marginalised and treated as second-class citizens.

Even vocal but eminently reasonable women priests in the Diocese of Sheffield acknowledged that they were forgoing a superb and energetic force for the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by not appointing Bishop North.

As Mgr Andrew Burnham (who was previously my Anglo-Catholic ecclesiastical shepherd as the Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet) comments at, surely this is clear confirmation that the Church of England has declared that all true Catholic believers ought to find a secure and authentic religious home.

This is the clearest message since the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England that those who have always sought to maintain an orthodox and Catholic witness in that church have no future in that denomination any more.

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