The responsibilities and role of a Bishop / Abbess


Sir Godfrey Gregg

The responsibilities and role of a Bishop / Abbess

To Teach 
A bishop is the principal teacher in his church and has a responsibility to preach the Word of God to his people. He must ensure that those delegated to teach in his name, namely pastors, teachers, mothers and others, teach the truth.

To Govern
This refers to meeting the needs of the local community (material, social, personal and spiritual) as well as ensuring that Church laws are observed.

He is ultimately responsible for training and supplying leadership, for the up keeping of all church property.

A Bishop (Abbess) has the power to enforce Church laws, be a judge in Church matters and to enforce observance of these laws. These laws generally relate to worship, preaching, administration of the biblical principles, safeguarding the faith and morals of the faithful and religious instruction.

To Sanctify 
A Bishop (Abbess) is responsible for ensuring that the sacraments are administered and has the special authority from the Archbishop and approved by the Patriarch to ordain ministers and to be of good behaviour.

It is usually the case, then, for a bishop to ordain the ministers who are to serve in his church for assisting the ministry.

He must also ensure that service is conducted every Sunday and on major feast days.

Other obligations 
Must live in the fear of the Lord and be of good behaviour and example attending a Church and community activities.

Has a serious duty to be present at his church during the seasons of Lent and Advent, and on the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, Christmas and church anniversary.

Every three years a Bishop (Abbess) should be evaluated by the Archbishop or someone appointed by the Archbishop, a report with recommendations will be sent to the Patriarch.

Bishops (Abbesses) must consult with the Archbishop on church matters for directions.

Bishops (Abbesses) must regularly visit and attend functions of the church as a collective body.

Bishops (Abbess) must attend general council  (meetings of Bishops/Abbesses) when they are called.

What symbols are associated with the Bishop/Abbess?

Crosier: The shepherd’s staff used on ceremonial occasions. It symbolizes being the shepherd of the people in the church.

Mitre: The triangular headgear, also worn by the Patriarch. There are three kinds depending on the liturgical season, and it is removed whenever the bishop is about to pray.

Pectoral Cross: The large ornamental cross worn as a necklace.

Ring: A ring worn on the third finger of the right hand. Some people kiss the bishop’s hand as a sign of their love for him and the recognition that he is a living icon of Christ in the midst of the Church.

Zucchetto (Skull Cap):Bishops wear a purple zucchetto while cardinals wear red and the Patriarch/Presiding Prelate wears white.

Coat of Arms: The Bishop will have a Coat of Arms, It does not apply to the Abbess. A bishop chooses symbols appropriate to himself and his ministry. The arms of the Church may occupy the left side whilst his personal arms occupy the right.

Motto: In order to motivate the faithful believers and to set himself a specific direction, a new bishop will select a set of meaningful words, often written in the English language, on the bottom of the Coat of Arms.

How do we address our Bishop?
In conversation, A Bishop should be addressed as … Bishop _____. He can be addressed by the more formal titles accorded to a bishop, such as My Lord Bishop or Your Lordship.

How do we address our Abbess?
In conversation, An Abbess should be addressed as … Abbess _____. She can be addressed by the more formal titles accorded to a Abbess, such as My Lady Abbess or Your Ladyship.


Author: Godfrey Gregg