THE Church of Ireland provided Europe with its first Anglican woman bishop — but many in the wider population are still getting used to the reality of a woman with a crozier.
During a light-hearted address to students at Dublin City University last week, the Bishop of Meath & Kildare, the Most Revd Pat Storey, described how, when lodging a cheque in a bank, it was handed back to her by the woman cashier with the explanation: “The Bishop will have to sign that himself.” Bishop Storey said: “I smiled at her, passed it back over the desk, and said, ‘I am he.’ She was, of course, mortified. People always are.”
On arriving for a meeting of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Anglican bishops, a UK bishop said to her that there did not seem to be a room booked for her. Another Irish bishop stepped forward to explain: “No, no, this isn’t our secretary.” The UK bishop said: “I am so sorry: you must be one of the wives.”
Remarking on this incident, Bishop Storey told her audience: “Isn’t it interesting that, in this day and age, a woman at the senior-level table is either bound to be the secretary or the wife.”
She rejected any suggestion that such encounters signalled misogyny. “They are simply making assumptions”, she said, and went on to describe a recent incident when, renewing her driving licence, “the young guy on the desk looked at my address and said: ‘The Bishop’s House? Wow, you’re married to a bishop?’
“Again, I chuckled, and said, ‘Erm, no — I am the bishop. And, again, he was extremely apologetic.”