Diocese of Chichester

Traditionalist bishop gives backing to female priests

A leading traditionalist bishop says he's changed his mind over the ordination of females in the Church. 

The Bishop of Horsham, Rt Revd Mark Sowerby says he's come to the decision after much prayer and soul searching.

He has now stood down as a member of the Council of Bishops of the Society.

The group was set up in 2010 to promote and maintain Catholic teachings in the Church of England, it also caters to parishes that do not wish to accept the ministry of a woman priest or bishop.

Speaking in response to his resignation, Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society said: "It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham's resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society.

"I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others."

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, of the diocese in which Bishop Mark serves, responded: "Bishop Mark's shift in theological outlook on the ordination of women priests and bishops is a costly one.

"All who know and respect him will understand the serious struggle with conscience that will have led to his decision.

"We respect his honesty and applaud his courage.

"For some of those he serves it will be a development that they cannot follow, and that will be painful. For others, this news will be greeted with relief and considerable rejoicing."

Bishop Mark will continue in his ministry at Horsham.

Traditionalists who have looked to him for sacramental ministry will now seek the pastoral care and oversight of the diocesan bishop.

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