Libby Lane made bishop of Stockport, despite interruption of Paul Williamson, who has history of opposing female priests
The Rt Rev Libby Lane has been made the bishop of Stockport with solemn oaths, high ceremony, and a sermon that drew on Call the Midwife in York Minster.
Since it was first built in AD637, the building has seen Viking raids, civil war, and even German bombing, but never a woman among the tends of thousands of bishops made here. Bishop Lane’s consecration was greeted with joy within the building and outside it – although the ceremony was interrupted by a lone protester who objected when the archbishop of York asked the congregation to consent to Lane’s appointment.
Women have been consecrated as bishops in many parts of the worldwide Anglican communion since 1989, and as priests in England since 1994, but opponents put up a long resistance to their further promotion, which only became possible last autumn. Roman Catholic bishops, who frequently attend important Anglican occasions, were absent. The service marked a final and decisive break with the tradition of an all-male priesthood.
Bishop Lane swore obedience to the queen, and to the archbishop of York and their successors. She heard Jesus’s instructions to his disciples from the gospel of Luke: “I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say ‘peace to this house’ …”
In the sermon, the archdeacon of York, the venerable Sarah Bullock, described God as “God our midwife”, and preached on a Christmas episode of BBC1’s Call the Midwife. “Like Cynthia, we all have so little to offer and so little to sacrifice”, she said. Later she concluded that it was all about Jesus.
The congregation was asked to assent to Bishop Lane’s consecration. As the congregation of nearly 2,000 people replied “It is”, a man stepped forward near the altar and shouted: “No. Not in my name. Not in the Bible. With respect, your grace, I ask to speak on this absolute impediment, please.”
Dr Sentamu read out a pre-prepared statement and repeated his question. There was no further interruption and the service continued.
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