Church aims to create super diocese

The Church of England has backed plans to axe three dioceses in Yorkshire - creating a new "super diocese" in their place.

Members of the General Synod, the Church's national assembly, approved a draft scheme to dissolve the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield.

I am conscious of the rich history and successes of the three dioceses.

In no sense is the proposal for a single new diocese to be read as criticism of the past or of the present. Rather the opposite.

However, they now face the major challenges of declining congregations, reduced numbers of clergy, weakened finances, pensions costs and so on faced by us all.

– Professor Michael Clarke, chairman of the dioceses commission

The dioceses would be replaced by a single new diocese of Leeds, with a working name of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said he believed the commission had come up with the "best solution" for the three dioceses in this "particular part of God's own county".

The key to this is a call to a collaborative way of working, not allowing ancient boundaries to stand in the way of effective mission.

– Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu

Under the scheme, there will be a new bishop, the Bishop of Leeds, with two new suffragan, or area bishops, of Bradford and Huddersfield.

The three existing cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield will remain cathedrals, with Leeds parish church, known as Leeds Minster, made a "pro-cathedral".