Calls for a female Bishop of Oxford

Leading figures in the Church of England have called for the next Bishop of Oxford to be a woman, following the retirement of the Rt Revd John Pritchard last Friday.

This would make the Bishopric of Oxford, whose seat at Christ Church Cathedral, the first in the Church of England to be filled by a woman

This follows the the decision of the General Synod on 14th July 2014, in which the required two thirds majority voted in its three constituent parts to enable women to become Bishops.

The diocese of Oxford has long been a supporter of women in the clergy, with two canons and three out of four Archdeacons being women.

The names of many women have been in circulation for the appointment of first female Bishop for some time due to the anticipation of such reform.

The main contenders are Lucy Winkett, the former Canon Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Vivianne Faulle, the only Church of England female Provost in history, and finally, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the House of Commons and the Queen.

The women’s rep for Pembroke College, Anna Simpson, commented: “It is fantastic to see this possible change tying in with wider movements in Oxford for gender equality and more generally that institutions are moving forward with the times”.

The Dean of Christ Church, Reverend Martyn Percy, was unavailable for comment, but the Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham, Revd Canon Rosie Harper expressed how the Church of England needs to counteract the distaste that many people (particularly the young) feel towards it, commenting: “Saying that we are inclusive is not enough. We need to act in inclusive ways. This will mean actually making some women bishops”.

Acting Bishop Rt Revd Colin Fletcher says  that his key concern is to “find the right person for the job”. The Revd Canon Rosie Harper is confident a woman can meet this brief: “There are some very experienced and talented women and I see no reason why one of them might not be found to be the best person for the role”.

There will be a Public Meeting on the 11th November at Christ Church Cathedral at 7:15pm to discuss  the appointment.