Synod to debate calls to sack bishops

Author: PA

Members of the Church’s national assembly will be asked to back moves to draw
up proposals for reductions in the number of episcopal and senior clergy
posts taking into account cutbacks to the number of paid clergy over the
last 30 years.

The proposals will be put by the Reverend Dr John Hartley, Vicar of
Eccleshill, in Bradford, at a meeting of the Church of England General Synod
at the University of York.

There are currently about 110 episcopal posts including diocesan and suffragan
(assistant) bishops in the Church of England.

Other senior clergy posts include between 100 and 110 archdeacons and 42
cathedral deans as well as cathedral canons.

A briefing note prepared by the Bradford Diocesan Synod said the Church
Commissioners spent £7.3 million in maintaining diocesan bishops’ houses in
2008 and £14.5 million in grants for bishops’ support staff, office and
working costs.

But the newly-formed Dioceses Commission, in a note prepared for the General
Synod, said overseeing paid clergy was not the only element in the work of
bishops and archdeacons.

“They also oversee self-supporting and active retired ministers and Readers,
and these categories have grown in number as the number of stipendiary
clergy has reduced,” it said.

“Furthermore, bishops are not just overseers of the clergy but also chief
pastors and fathers in God to the people of their dioceses – including those
who do not regularly attend church.”

The move comes after the Church Commissioners, which manages the Church of
England’s investments, announced that the value of its portfolio shrank to
£4.4 billion during 2008 compared with £5.7 billion the year before.

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