Scottish Episcopal church defends first woman bishop

By Huw Williams
BBC Scotland reporter

Image source, Scottish Episcopal Church
Image caption,
Canon Anne Dyer's election was announced in November

The Scottish Episcopal church has defended the selection of Canon Anne Dyer as the next Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

A group within the diocese has called on her to consider standing down.

Canon Dyer is due to be consecrated as the first woman bishop in Scotland at a service in St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen, in March.

The Primus of the church has accused those behind an open letter of trying to "subvert" its processes.

Mark Strange, who is Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, reaffirmed his belief that Canon Dyer is the right person to be bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

Unite and welcome

In a letter responding to the group who have questioned the selection of Canon Dyer, Bishop Strange called on the diocese to unite and "welcome Canon Dyer as your new bishop".

And he accused those behind the protest of placing her in an "invidious position" as the bishop elect.

She was elected by the college of bishops after the diocese itself twice failed to draw up a shortlist of at least three suitable candidates.

But 18 clergy and lay members of the church who objected to the appointment have said the process was "divisive" and "disrespectful".

Right to vote

They have asked to be given the right to vote on her selection.

They said that if that was not possible, the bishop elect should consider withdrawing her acceptance of the job.

The signatories were keen to stress that their protest was not directed personally at Canon Dyer, and said they did not wish to reopen arguments about women in the episcopate, or about gay marriage.

But the diocese was the only one in Scotland to vote against changing the church's canon law to allow same sex marriages.

Canon Dyer is known to be a supporter of marriage equality.

In their letter, the protestors argue that two prominent clergy have already resigned from roles within the diocese.

"Others", they say, "are considering similar action".

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