Philip John North CMP (born 2 December 1966) is a bishop in the Church of England. Since February 2015, he has been Bishop of Burnley, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Blackburn. He was previously team rector of the parish of Old St Pancras.

It was announced in January 2017 that North had been nominated to become the next Bishop of Sheffield. He withdrew his acceptance of the nomination in March 2017 without taking up the post after concerns were raised about him being "unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests" and his citing "highly individualised attacks" which he had received.[1] In 2012, he had withdrawn his acceptance of the appointment as Bishop of Whitby primarily for the same reason.

Early life

North was born on 2 December 1966 in North London.[2] He studied history at the University of York, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1988.[3][4] He spent a year working as a pastoral assistant in Redhouse, Sunderland, before preparing for ordination at St Stephen's House, Oxford.[3] He graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA degree in 1991; as per tradition, his BA was promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) degree in 2001.[4]

Ordained ministry

North was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1992 and as a priest in 1993.[4] He was a curate at Saint Mary and Saint Peter's in Sunderland until 1996, after which he became the vicar of Holy Trinity in Hartlepool until 2002, during which time he was also Hartlepool's area dean (2000-2002).

In 2002, North became priest administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, also serving as priest-in-charge of Hempton and Pudding Norton from 2004 to 2007. In 2008 he became team rector in the parish of Old St Pancras and team vicar at St Michael's Church, Camden Town.

In 1997, North joined the Company of Mission Priests, a dispersed community (not a religious order) of male Anglican priests who do not marry and follow the Vincentian rule of life.[5] In 2015, he was elected a member of the general council of the Society of Mary, an Anglican devotional society.[6]

Episcopal ministry

On 19 October 2012, North was announced as Martin Warner's successor as Bishop of Whitby.[7] On 16 December 2012, it was announced that North had withdrawn his acceptance of the post because of conflict between his views on women as priests and bishops,[8] his love for the Parish of Old St Pancras and "the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland".[9]

On 7 November 2014, it was announced that North had been selected as the next Bishop of Burnley.[5] He was consecrated at York Minster on 2 February 2015.[10] The laying on of hands was restricted to three bishops "who share his theological conviction regarding the ordination of women"; the other bishops at the service, including the only woman then consecrated as a bishop, Libby Lane, and John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, gathered around him during the consecration prayer instead.[11] The three consecrating bishops were: Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester; Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract; and Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley.[12] Warner also presided at the service's Eucharist in place of Sentamu.[11] On 14 February 2015, he was installed as Bishop of Burnley at Blackburn Cathedral.[13] In May 2016, it was announced that North was to also be Acting Dean of Blackburn during the vacancy in the deanery caused by the resignation of Christopher Armstrong on 17 June 2016 (although Armstrong departed Blackburn prior to this date).[14] He later resigned the residentiary canonry on 31 August 2022[15] (the day of Julian Henderson's retirement, upon which North became acting diocesan bishop).[16]

On 31 January 2017, it was announced that North was to be translated to become Bishop of Sheffield; his installation at Sheffield Cathedral had been scheduled for June 2017,[17] by which point he must have been elected and confirmed. However, he withdrew his acceptance of the nomination on 9 March 2017 following several public objections on the basis of his rejection of the ordination of women and the number of women serving as priests in the diocese. In his statement of withdrawal, North cited "personal attacks".[18] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, later described the affair as "deeply saddening for all involved" and "a setback".[19]


North supports the ordination of women as deacons, but does not support the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate.[20] In relation to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, he has stated: "I don't believe we have the authority to make changes to the doctrine of marriage ... I would certainly utterly condemn homophobia, and hope that the churches of Sheffield are places where gay people felt welcome."[21]

North is a member of the Council of Bishops of The Society.[22]

In an interview for Sky News North stated "I think some of the anger expressed in the Brexit votes was because Englishness in some situations is seen as a cause of shame. If we can recover a courageous, compassionate and diverse Englishness I think people may recover some of that language with some degree of pride."[23]

He has stated in a speech for the New Wine festival, "We are all trying massively hard to renew the Church. We are working like crazy, we are praying like mad, we are trying every new idea under the sun. Yet the longed-for renewal does not seem to come. In fact decline just seems to speed up. Why? Why are we struggling so much? I want to suggest that the answer is quite a straightforward one. It’s because we have forgotten the poor".[24]


  1. ^ "Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests". Archived from the original on 15 March 2015.
  2. ^ "North, Philip John". Who's Who. Vol. 2016 (November 2015 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 24 July 2016. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b "Fast facts about the new Bishop of Burnley" (PDF). Diocese of Blackburn. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Philip John North". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Press release - Suffragan Bishop of Burnley: Reverend Philip John North". 7 November 2014.
  6. ^ Miller, Luke (March 2015). "Elections to the General Council 2015" (PDF). Ave. Society of Mary. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. ^ Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street (19 October 2012). "Suffragan See of Whitby - Press releases -". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  8. ^ Diocese of London – North withdraws from Whitby post
  9. ^ Sam Jones (17 December 2012). "Female bishop row deepens as priest refuses promotion in protest | World news". London: Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  10. ^ Diocese of Blackburn – Consecration of the Eleventh Bishop of Burnley at York Minster Archived 3 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 2 February 2015)
  11. ^ a b "Bishop of Burnley: Rt Rev Philip North consecrated". BBC News. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  12. ^ Semley, Ronnie (2 February 2015). "Consecration of the Eleventh Bishop of Burnley at York Minster". News. Diocese of Blackburn. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Controversial Bishop of Burnley officially installed". ITV Report. ITV. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Appointments". Church Times. No. 7991. 13 May 2016. p. 33. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Clergy Moves and News". Diocese of Blackburn. 27 September 2022. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  16. ^ "An open letter to the Diocese of Blackburn" (PDF). Diocese of Blackburn. 7 March 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  17. ^ Diocese of Sheffield — Next Bishop of Sheffield Announced (Accessed 31 January 2017)
  18. ^ Wyatt, Tim (9 March 2017). "Bishop North pulls out of Sheffield after personal attacks". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  19. ^ Handley, Paul (16 February 2018). "To bless and not to bless: Archbishop Welby in conversation". Church Times. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  20. ^ Peace, Lee. "New Bishop of Sheffield explains opposition to ordaining women into priesthood". The Sheffield Star. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  21. ^ Davies, Madeleine (3 February 2017). "Next Bishop of Sheffield, Philip North, pledges to be 'Bishop for all'". The Church Times. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  22. ^ "The Council of Bishops". The Society. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  23. ^ Sky News (7 August 2021). "Englishness 'in crisis': People feel alienated from 'Westminster machine', says bishop". Sky News. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  24. ^ Anglican Communion News Service (4 August 2017). "Bishop says that the Church has forgotten the poor". Anglican Communion News Service. Retrieved 19 August 2022.

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