On June 21, 3000 people travelled to St Albans to hear Bishop Katharine speak on heroes. She was a truly inspiring speaker, filling us with hope for the votes on women bishops. It was wonderful just to see the presiding Bishop of the United States of America in England and to hear the hope that she brought from her context.
A willingness to meet with those who disagree with her has transformed her relationship with traditionalists yet she has also brought hope to those communities who still feel on the margins of the church. She spoke warmly of her relationship with other bishops both in the United States and abroad. She has encouraged her brother and sister bishops to keep dialoguing with one another and to bring their differences to the table rather than discussing one another behind closed doors.
It was exciting to see a woman in the pulpit of St Alban’s Abbey. Her sermon on heroes gave much food for thought to the Catholic women’s ordination movement. She asked the congregation to consider who our heroes are and who are we heroes for? She made me think of those brave women who campaigned for the vote and those who work for inclusion in all churches where there is discrimination.
In the afternoon she led a question and answer session on Ministry for those of us who are WATCH members. She spoke of her calling as Bishop and its similarities with her work as an oceanographer because she had faced discrimination in both contexts. She spoke of her supports for the inclusion of lesbian and gay people within the church and how she listens to those who oppose her. She encouraged us to keep dreaming of a future in the Roman Catholic Church with women and men are treated equally and she also spoke of the importance of being yourself and listening carefully to those who disagree.
At the afternoon celebration we were blessed with a sermon from John Bell of the Iona community. His radical inclusion reminded us to think where integrity is and to be aware of those politicians who trample on those who are poor and abused. Bishop Katharine has been invited to the Women’s Ordination Worldwide conference. We pray she will be able to accept.