Comments: The business of bishoping

"Bishops can, moreover, be enticed into ‘playing the role’ all the time, for which there is sometimes a huge price to pay, including when over-subsuming personal convictions in order to hold a common line they really believe to be untenable."

Perhaps like his boss.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 11 September 2009 at 4:02pm BST

With the current controversy about the ministry of bishops in the Church, one wonders whether the primitive idea of episcopal oversight has been seriously neglected - in favour of appointing political careerists, whose lack of practical knowledge and experience of parish ministry does not equip them for the type of evangelism which Jesus calls forth from his lead disciples.

The old idea of a bishop being securely grounded in the work of a parish - as well as ministering on a wider basis - did at least ensure that the practical priestly calling had a distinct priority over the empire-building strategy of some of our latter day aspirants to episcopate.
A grounding in the religious life was also an effective way of ensuring the spirituality of those called to advise the clergy in their daily devotional observances - which form the basis of a godly discipline at the heart of the preaching of the Gospel.

Political nous - though useful in the world of competitive ideologies - may not be the best foundation for offering the redemption of Jesus Christ to a needy world. Nor does ecclesiastical preferment guarantee the wisdom needed for the task of discernment of the priorities of the Gospel message in the modern world. We do need bishops, but do they need to be 'high-profile'?

Perhaps the abandonment of episcopal palaces might bring the bishops back into the main-stream of parish life - which is where the evangel is needed most; where the people are more concerned about coping with the business of survival, than with whether the priest is male, female or gay.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 September 2009 at 1:02am BST
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