Women in Sheffield mark International Women's Day with humorous protest at their new bishop

Kate Bottley/TwitterSheffield's 'Women of Steel' protest against the new Bishop of Sheffield

Women in Sheffield have made a humorous protest at the appointment of Philip North as the city's new Church of England bishop.

The famous bronze sculpture unveiled last year to commemorate women who worked in the steel industry in Sheffield in the last two wars has been adorned with episcopal mitres and stoles with one placard that reads: 'This is what a priest looks like.'

BBC TV's Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley posted the protest on Twitter, describing it as 'good natured'.

Currently Bishop of Burnley, North, 50, succeeds Steven Croft, now Bishop of Oxford. He will be consecrated at Sheffield Cathedral in July. He is part of the Anglican Catholic group The Society, part of Forward in Faith, and does not ordain women himself. He has made it clear that he supports women's ministry in the diocese. 

The 'Women  of Steel' protest was organised by the new group Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality or SAME, set up to debate the appointment and make suggestions for action. It was timed to coincide with International Women's Day.

SAMESheffield Action On Ministry Equality 'Women of Steel' protest

Two ministry equality activists, Nicole Brown and Sioned-Mair Richards, 'prayerfully' adorned the Women of Steel as 'full bishops', asking that this would offer a temporary sign of encouragement to women in the Diocese of Sheffield who need it, the action group's blog reported.

They posed the question 'What Would the Women of Steel Do?'

In a statement, Brown and Richards said: 'Sheffield is proud of its women. Women who marched for access to birth control in the 1960s, women who marched for equal pay in the 1970s, women who stood on the picket lines in the 1980s and our treasured Women of Steel who did all they could during our nation's darkest hours.

'That same strength beats in the hearts of the women of Sheffield today. We don't think the new bishop is a bad person but we do believe that he wrong about women's ordination.

'And we think we owe it to the Women of Steel throughout our city's proud history, to speak out about injustice and peacefully and with good humour to do all we can to persuade him to change his mind. The women of steel would expect nothing less.

'We also think the women of steel would make brilliant bishops. We have faith that one day we will persuade Bishop North to agree with us.'