A hundred years after the arrival of Protestantism in this predominantly Roman Catholic country, a woman has been elected as a Protestant bishop. Ellen Prima-vera-Briones, 47, was consecrated as bishop in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) at its recent annual general assembly.

"This is not a matter of patriarchy or matriarchy," Bishop Briones told ENI in an interview in Manila. "Both women and men need the good news of abundant life. For too long, the work of men and women has been dichotomized. It is time we work for a better partnership between women and men in inclusive communities."As jurisdictional bishop, Bishop Briones is responsible for the South Luzon district, which includes more than 400 churches and congregations from metropolitan Manila to the southernmost tip of Luzon island, as well as the islands of Mindoro and Palawan.

Bishop Briones has promised to promote women's participation not only in token representation but in decisionmaking, particularly in the areas of mission and reconciliation. Women were particularly good at conflict-resolution and shared a unique concern for missiological tasks in church and society, she told ENI. "They are the sector that feels the problem, they are the first to suffer because of poverty, they suffer as internal refugees."