It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to title this post just Bishops. Not Female Bishops, not Women in the Episcopate. But Bishops.
The process has been long, with many meanderings along the way. It has been hard for proponents and opponents. It has I suspect been especially hard for women in the catholic movement who owe their understanding of the faith and discovery of vocation in some part to those opposed to their ordination. Some of those conversations are still happening. I had one today.
For me something remarkable has come out of the heartache and the debate. Bishops are important. Not important as managers, not important as public functionaries, not important as leaders, but important as the hands and feet of the Apostles.
Circumstance made Presbyters.
Apostles made Deacons.
But Jesus, in breathing on the Apostles, Jesus made Bishops.
Bishops are not vicars with a better hat, but the foundational blocks of the church's ministry. They inspire, they send, they break new ground, they discern, they ordain, they teach, they serve. And I reckon we need more not less of that in the church.
It is going to take some time for gender to become invisible in the House of Bishops. It is going to take some time for gender to become invisible amongst the Lords Spiritual. It is going to take some time for gender to become invisible amongst diocesans, assistant and suffragan Bishops.
So in the mean time why not make some more?
There are ministry team leaders, missioners, academics and many others who could share in the ministry of the diocesan Bishop, just as retired Bishops and those who are no longer overseeing an area or diocese do already. Amongst them gender could be invisible, and any suggestion that female candidates do not have the experience for the jobs of highest responsibility would be avoided.
I am sure that this is all legally impossible. I am sure that the time it would take to create that many bishops would be too long to make a difference. I am sure it could detract from the invisibility of gender becoming real amongst diocesans.
But it would benefit the mission and ministry of the church.
And it is not just Bishops who can dream dreams.
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