COLE MORETON despairs of "self-serving bishops" ("Our Church, their club", Section 2, 8 February). Let me tell you what a bishop does. His working day often stretches from 7am to 10pm. He is expected to be on top form in public - often preaching five or six times a week - and wise in private, for much time is spent counselling individuals. He may have to oversee a territory including millions of people and hundreds of churches. Almost certainly he spends more time than his critics meeting ordinary people. He lives over the office.

A bishop's life is rooted in worship and prayer. Sometimes he has an off-day; physical symptoms of stress are not uncommon, for too often he puts his own needs second to those of his flock. What is true of all diocesan bishops is doubly true of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who carries extra national and international responsibilities. None of these men asked for the job, but I have never heard one complain about it for they do it for God. As they are unlikely to defend themselves I hope you will allow someone who has worked closely with bishops for many years to put the record straight.

The Venerable John Barton

Diocese of Birmingham

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