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Broken communion for the Church of Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, Sep 23, 2011 p 5. September 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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Consecration of Bishop Patrick Rooke of Tuam

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The outcry over the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory’s support for an Irish dean’s gay civil union has forced the bishop to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry.

Church leaders in Northern Ireland told The Church of England Newspaper that the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows had been advised to stay away from the Sept 8 consecration of Bishop Patrick Rooke at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.  The bishop had been told his support for clergy gay civil unions had broken the collegiality of the church and his presence would cause some participants in the ceremony to refrain from receiving the Eucharist with him.

Bishop Burrow’s office did not respond to questions from CEN, but the Church of Ireland’s press officer did confirm that the bishop “did not attend and that this was his own decision. I have no knowledge of any advice from anyone about staying away or concern with regard to receiving communion.”

He added that Bishop Burrows provided the following comment to The Belfast Newsletter and to the Church of Ireland Gazette on Sept 9.

“I was indeed sad not to be in Armagh yesterday not least as Bishop Rooke’s father and mine were friends and colleagues in Dublin diocese many years ago. However, I felt, given the current preoccupations particularly of sections of the Northern media, that there was some danger of my presence causing distraction in a manner that would be unseemly on such a solemn occasion. So I offered my sincere prayers for the new bishop privately and at home.”

The threat of schism hangs over the Church of Ireland in the wake of revelations that Bishop Burrows permitted the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Rev. Tom Gordon, to register a same-sex civil union.

The Primate of All-Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Alan Harper told the Sept 11 “Sunday Sequence” programme of BBC Radio Ulster he was “very, very concerned at the potential for division” within the church over homosexuality.

In 2003 the Irish bishops agreed to maintain the church’s historic teachings on marriage and human sexuality, whilst maintaining collegiality that respected the diversity of views of its members.  There was not a “broad consensus for change” within the Church of Ireland for changing this view, Dr. Harper said.

But there was “need for discussions, first in the House of Bishops and then in the General Synod,” Dr. Harper said, adding the bishops had “determined to revisit the discussions of 2003 in meetings this autumn.”

In a joint statement issued to the Portadown Times last week, clergy from the rural Deanery of Kilmore said the union between Dean Gordon and Mark Duley had ”placed us in a position where we feel we must make some kind of statement by way of reassurance and support to our parishioners.

“To fail to say anything would allow the picture reported by sections of the media, and exaggerated by the uninformed, to stand, by default. The matter of the Very Rev. Tom Gordon’s civil partnership on the one hand is a matter for his and his partner’s individual conscience, but it is a move which many people of the Church of Ireland are unable to accept.

“In the absence of a resolution to this matter determined by the whole Church of Ireland, we the serving clergy of Kilmore Rural Deanery wish to reassure our people that the recent development has not changed the Church’s position on marriage, nor has it accepted that a sexual relationship outside marriage is in keeping with God’s intention,” the statement said.

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