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US bishop warns Welsh of ‘bitchy’ slur on women

12 September 2014


"Crossing the Threshold": Bishop Geralyn Wolf with delegates at the conference

"Crossing the Threshold": Bishop Geralyn Wolf with delegates at the conference

WOMEN bishops face a "totally different starting-point" from their male colleagues, who automatically enjoy authority, delegates in Wales were told last week.

The conference "Crossing The Threshold" was held at St Michael's College, Llandaff, on Thursday of last week, before the legislation permitting women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church in Wales came into effect this week.

It was addressed by a former Bishop of Rhode Island, the Rt Revd Geralyn Wolf, who said: "There is always going to be differentiation between men and women bishops. But I hope we can lift it up so that people can see that, many times, it is plain and simply unfair.

"A man walks into a church and he receives trust, admiration, and acceptance. He has authority. We walk into a church and we have to gain that trust, gain that authority, and that is a totally different starting-point. I still believe that a strong woman is still called bitchy, difficult, unsympathetic - we still get those tags placed on us."

She went on: "As has been said, we are not 'women bishops', but bishops first who happen to be women. . . God's power will be with those who are called to this ministry."

Bishop Wolf also presided at a service at Llandaff Cathedral, becoming the first woman Anglican bishop to do so. The sermon was preached by Canon Mary Stallard, Anglican Chaplain at St Joseph's Catholic and Anglican School in Wrexham, who said: "Too often in the endless debates about women and ministry, the focus has been upon offence given and taken within the body of Christ - the Church.

"There is frequently an unholy scramble to claim the status of victim inside the Church, which completely misses the point of Jesus's message. The lost, according to Jesus, are not the insiders or the privileged, but the genuinely vulnerable, the poor, the dependent, the young, and the frail.

"In a world where more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls are still missing . . . where ordinary people are living in daily fear of persecution, hunger, and war, the focus of our shepherding concern has to be outwards, not inward."

Last month, the Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt Revd Gayle Harris, became the first Anglican woman bishop to preside and preach in a Welsh cathedral, at St Asaph.


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