The new Bishop of Chichester has been enthroned in a ceremony at the city’s cathedral.
Dr Martin Warner said on Sunday that huge national and local challenges facing the Church of England can, at times, seem formidable and insurmountable but the message of the Christian gospel was ultimately that Christians should not be afraid of facing such difficulties.
In his enthronement sermon in front of a congregation gathered to welcome Dr Warner as the new diocesan bishop, he echoed the words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid.”
He added: “These are the words that Jesus speaks to us today, as still he beckons us to apprehend the reality of his presence and his power to heal, to transform, to redeem. “Do not be afraid” to continue with the task of learning the language of the new righteousness and truth, even though we shall falter and stumble in the articulation of it.
Dr Warner admitted the ‘Church of England’s self-confidence and national reputation’ had been badly affected as a result of the General Synod vote on women bishops last week: “We now have to face some very uncomfortable facts that will implicate us all in a review of our decision-making processes as a church. And although the temptation to apportion blame is a dangerous one, perhaps we can observe that the political processes of the General Synod have not delivered for us a reliable way of finding consensus on how to attain the goal of including women in the episcopate, which is undoubtedly the earnest desire of the majority of people in the C of E.”
He suggested: “As we reflect on our situation we might ask how we are now to set about our mission and rebuilding trust and understanding.”
And, more locally, the new bishop did not ignore the critical issue of safeguarding in his new diocese: “The diocese of Chichester has recently had the experience of facing a similar challenge, in the wake of reviews of our safeguarding record and the arrest, trial and conviction of some who have ministered here.
“I want to pay tribute to all who have worked so hard to ensure that the safeguarding policies of the diocese and their even and thorough implementation enable us to say with growing conviction and confidence that in our parishes and church institutions children and vulnerable adults will be safe and feel safe.”