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Down the zip wire

13 February 2015

LIFE as a bishop is a lot like a ride on a zip wire, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, when he preached at the consecration of the new Bishop of Limerick & Killaloe, the Rt Revd Kenneth Kearon, in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

"The thing about the zip wire", he explained, "is that, to start you off, someone has to help you on your way by giving you a gentle - or not so gentle - push, because it looks quite terrifying; and then, as you end the journey, somebody hauls you in with something resembling a shepherd's crook to make sure that you land safely on the other side, assuming you haven't had a heart attack in between.

"The more I think about it, those two actions of launching and hauling-in sum up the work of a bishop. We try to launch people on their journeys of faith, and persuade congregations and parishes to do the things they might not want to do; and we try to hold them safe as they journey, because that is what pastoral care is all about."

He said that "bishops, as well as being pastors, need to be like the person at the top of the zip wire in North Wales," having in mind a particularly scary new tourist attraction in north Wales, Zip World Velocity (above). "The people who give the Church a push or prod - indeed, they need to get on the zip wire first themselves, to lead by example."

Before being elected to his new diocese, Bishop Kearon served as Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion for ten years, and was formerly director of the Irish School of Ecumenics.

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