New Bishop of Sheffield announced after 'highly individualised attacks' forced Philip North to stand down
The new Bishop of Sheffield has been announced as Pete Wilcox, currently Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, after Philip North withdrew under intense pressure from opponents.
Announcing the appointment, the Bishop of Doncaster Peter Burrows, said Dr Pete Wilcox was a 'genuinely humble holy and committed servant with a real sense of calling to serve the diocese'.
Wilcox admitted these 'are unusual circumstances and not circumstances any of us would have chosen'.
He said: 'Clearly the events that have led up to today don't reflect particularly well on any of us.'
It comes after Philip North, currently Bishop of Burnley, was originally appointed Bishop of Sheffield only to withdraw himself after 'highly individualised attacks' over his stance on women priests.
North is from the Anglo-Catholic branch of the Church and refuses to ordain women – a position that causes outrage from some sectors of the Church.
Addressing what it was like to be second choice after North, Wilcox said 'it feels fine' and said: 'This appointment was never second choice to me.'
A lecturer in Old Testament Studies at the evangelical St Mellitus theological college, Wilcox trained at Ridley Hall in Cambridge after completing a degree in modern history at Durham University.
Speaking about his appointment, he said: 'Although the journey has been unconventional, to say the least, I feel called by God to this role and am therefore thrilled to be coming to the Diocese of Sheffield.
'There will be much for me to learn, but I am excited about the work which is already underway to share the good news about Jesus, and to work for the justice and peace which the kingdom of God will bring.'
Bishop North said he was 'overjoyed' by the announcement and said Wilcox is a 'priest whose ministry I have long admired'.
He said: 'He will bring great intelligence, insight and evangelistic energy to the Diocese of Sheffield along with experience of ministry from a wide variety of contexts,' he said. 'I pray that clergy and laypeople of all traditions will be able to unite around his leadership and so together continue to bring renewal to the Parishes of the Diocese to the glory of God.'
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who fiercely criticised Philip North's opponents in the wake of his resignation, said Wilcox will 'lead the Diocese of Sheffield in the way of Christ with insight and oversight with a readiness to change, challenge and be challenged.
'His love of Jesus and His Gospel, His Church, the Body of Christ and the diverse peoples of God's world will make him a Bishop who will work in partnership with all.'
He added: 'I am grateful for the wise pastoral and missional leadership of Bishop Peter Burrows and the Diocesan Leadership team. Thank you very much.'