New Bishop of Sheffield: It's an 'enormous privilege' to proof-read my wife's raunchy Church novels

Olivia Rudgard
The Very Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, who has been named as the new Bishop of Sheffield a month after the previous nominee withdrew following protests over his views on the ordination of women clergy - PA

The new Bishop of Sheffield is a popular evangelical who enjoys proof-reading his wife's raunchy Church of England novels. 

The Very Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, 55, has been widely praised for his work in his current role as Dean of Liverpool.

Downing Street announced this morning that he would become the new Bishop of Sheffield this summer after the previous nominee, the current Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, stood aside after a row over his view that women should not become priests. 

But Dr Wilcox's wife, Catherine, has a rather less conventional career - writing novels which in their content he admits can "come as something of a shock" to other Christians. 

Catherine Fox in 1998, when her husband was vicar of St Paul's Church, Walsall Credit: Eleanor Bentall

Catherine, who is also Dr Wilcox and writes under the name Catherine Fox, has written a Christian spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey entitled Fifty Shades of Purple and has had her books described as "cassock-rippers" for their racy, real-life content. 

She is a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and has written a series of books based in the fictional diocese of Lindchester. 

Her books tackle real-life issues including sexuality, church politics, relationships and morality.

Her characters debate the same issues that the Church of England has been tackling in real life, such as gay priests and the ordination of women.

But they also swear copiously and engage in explicit trysts. 

The opportunity to be the diocesan bishop of somewhere northern and urban just absolutely is for me.

Pete Wilcox

One couple even enjoys a fumble while on a walk in the countryside. 

The newly-appointed bishop said it was an "enormous privilege" to be his wife's first reader. 

He added: "She is an extraordinarily creative, compelling writer. She is particularly good at characterisation and dialogue, her characters are very believable, but she doesn't tidy anything up. 

"She writes about the Christian gospel and its impact on individual lives, but she doesn't make everything neat and tidy because life just isn't that way. 

"Her books can come as something of a shock to Christians who pick them up because they know that she's married to a Christian priest, and they're not used to reading contemporary literary fiction.

"They don't come as anything like a shock to people who are used to reading the genre in which Cathy writes."

The couple met while both were studying at Durham University, and they have two adult sons.

Dr Wilcox said he was "excited" to take on the new role, adding: "The opportunity to be the diocesan bishop of somewhere northern and urban just absolutely is for me."

Mr North said he was “overjoyed" at the news. He said: "He will bring great intelligence, insight, and evangelistic energy to the Diocese of Sheffield along with experience of ministry from a wide variety of contexts."