By Victor Ochieng
The Church of England announced on Monday its decision to appoint Right Reverend Sarah Mullally as the next Bishop of London. Her elevation to the position is historical, being the first ever female to play that role. She’s set to be installed in a ceremony to be conducted in 2018.
In a statement released after the announcement, Mullally said, “There is a huge hunger for spirituality, and new ways for the Church to meet that hunger. The Church of England wants to be a Christian presence in every community—confident in prayer, speaking about and living out its faith, working creatively with the people.”
Mullally currently serves as the Bishop of Crediton. She was ordained in a ceremony held in 2001 and would in 2004 join the ministry full time. She has a background in nursing.
But even as Mullally takes up her new role, she remains controversial to many people. During an interview after her raising to the new position, she declined to make a clear comment on her position on one of the most polarizing debates in the Church of England. She left tens of thousands of people unsure of what she stands for on matters gay rights.
Conversations around same-s*x romantic affairs and gay clergy are some of the arguments that have left the Church of England divided to the extent that some breakaway movements now threat schism in England among other places.
The church’s parliament, the General Synod, has dismissed middle-ground positions being floated by some liberals and conservatives on matters of gay relationships.
The doctrinal division brought about by gaysm has been around for three decades and there remains nothing in sight that’s likely to bring the two sides together. This is what prompted Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to write that it’s only through a miracle, “the work of the Holy Spirit” that can bring together the two warring sides.
It must be because of these deep-running divisions that Mullally declined during her interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme to clearly state her position on gaysm. This could have also been influenced by the fact that her new diocese is home to some of the fiercest debaters on the issue, with both sides of the rift well represented.
Pressed to answer on whether she’d vote in the next Synod sitting for the church to bless same-s*x marriages, Bishop Mullally eluded the question, saying, “What we have to remember is that this is about people and the Church seeks to demonstrate love to all,” adding, “This issue isn’t just an issue for London, not just the Church of England, but also the Anglican community.”
She said the Church of England has “a real diversity” and is stepping into a phase of reflection.