New Bishop of Chichester appointed

Dr Martin Warner has been appointed as the new Bishop of Chichester.

Dr Warner, 53, is currently Suffragan Bishop of Whitby in the Diocese of York.

He succeeds the Rt Rev John Hind who retired last month.

Dr Warner studied at St Chad’s College in Durham before completing his theological training at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He was ordained deacon in 1984 and priest in 1985 in Exeter Cathedral whilst working as Curate of St Peter’s Plymouth.

He has previously served in Leicester and in churches in Norfolk.

From 2003 to 2010, Dr Warner served as a residentiary Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in London, firstly as Canon Pastor and then as Treasurer where he made a big contribution particularly with regards to the Cathedral's connection with the art world.

He was elected as suffragan Bishop of Whitby in the Diocese of York in 2010 and has served the parishes of the Cleveland archdeaconry which includes the contrasting communities of Middlesbrough and much of the North Yorkshire Moors.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Chichester described Dr Warner as a traditionalist who has worked "resolutely to encourage provision in which people of all integrities can remain together".

"He worked closely with women priest colleagues at St Paul’s Cathedral and has sought to serve with equal care the ordained men and women in his episcopal patch in the north of England," the spokesperson said.

Dr Warner said it was a "daunting and exciting challenge" to be the next Bishop of Chichester.

"I look forward very much to learning more about the mission in which we shall be engaging together, though it will be a big wrench leaving the North East so soon." he said.

The Acting Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby, said: “I am delighted that Dr Martin Warner, whom I have known for many years, is to be the new Bishop of Chichester.

"I believe that he will lead us with the effervescent energy and clarity that has always been distinctive of his ministry and I very much look forward to working alongside him in the service of the Church and people of Sussex.”

The Very Rev Nicholas Frayling, the Dean of Chichester, said: “These are challenging times for the Church and for its Bishops. The Dean and Chapter and all at the Cathedral look forward to welcoming Bishop Martin and assure him of our prayers and good wishes as he prepares for his new ministry in Chichester.”

However his appointment has not been welcomed by pro-women bishops group WATCH, which said it would come as a "disappointment" to many in the diocese.

"After a full consultation, many in the diocese were hoping to work with a new bishop who follows normal practice in the Church of England in accepting ordained women on the same terms as men," the group said in a statement.

"The message this gives to the wider Church of England is that it still acceptable for women to be seen as a problem that some people feel they need to be protected from rather than a gift to the Church.

"We wonder how the ordained women of Chichester will feel supported with a bishop who does not recognise their orders? We wonder how the lay women and men of Chichester will feel seeing their female priests compromised in this way?

"At a time when 42 out of 44 Dioceses have voted for women to be made bishops and large numbers in the Church are looking to the day when women will become bishops this decision seeks to preserve a past that has long gone."