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Oh, those pagan Irish Anglicans?: Get Religion, November 18, 2013 November 19, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of Ireland, Get Religion, Press criticism.
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Was it a case of good manners?

Did the editors at The Irish Times print the obituary of Olivia Durdin Robertson, who it described as, “the self-styled ‘high priestess’ of a Co Carlow-based cult devoted to an ancient Egyptian goddess, [who] has died aged 96,” without any comment or further investigation to avoid a scandal in the Church of Ireland? Or were they unaware of what they had in front of them?

The Church of Ireland is in a delicate state in terms of its unity. Divided roughly along North/South lines over the culture war issues — homosexuality, abortion and the like — the church funeral of Olivia Durdin Robertson might tip the church over the edge.

This Irish Times story marks the passing of a generation: English aristocratic eccentrics (in this case Angl0-Irish) with oddball country house antics. While Miss Durdin Robertson appears not to have aspired to the cat suits of Dianna Rigg, the conversion of her ancestral home, Huntington Castle in the Irish village of Clonegal in County Carlow, into a temple dedicated to “the Goddess” would not have been out of place in an episode of the ’60s television show, The Avengers.

The Irish Times reported:

Ms Durdin Robertson came to international attention in the 1970s when she co-founded the “Fellowship of Isis” with her late brother Lawrence Alexander Durdin Robertson – a former Anglican clergyman — and his wife Pamela.

And noted:

Her nephew David Durdin Robertson, a craftsman and sculptor who predeceased her in 2009, created an Egyptian temple for her in the dungeons of the castle. In recent years this has been opened to the public for tours at Halloween.

Intrigued? Click this link to learn more about the Fellowship, which appears to have drawn heavily from Robert Graves’ The White Goddess. The article notes:

Her funeral on Wednesday will begin with “a private ceremony in the temple, organised by the Fellowship of Isis, by invitation only” followed by a public Church of Ireland service at St Fiacc’s in Clonegal.

And then closes with odds and ends about the Fellowship and the castle.

Well, “what of it?”, you might ask. Why would the obituary of the priestess of an Irish-Egyptian cult come across GetReligion’s radar? Titillation value?

No — the two funerals notice is the clue. Anglican churches have a difficult time as it is permitting Freemasons Christian burial. But a church burial for a leader of a pagan cult, even if she is the local squire, is contrary to canon law.

Canon 32, “The burial of the dead”, of the Church of Ireland states in part:

(2)    A member of the clergy may however exercise discretion in refusing to read the burial service in full where the deceased died unbaptised or had committed some grievous or notorious sin and not repented of it or had been excluded from Holy Communion under Canon 16 and had not been readmitted thereto.

And in such circumstances:

(3)    And where this is not reasonably practicable such member of the clergy shall report the matter to the [bishop] thereafter.

I wrote to the priest in charge of St Fiacc’s (which is part of a larger conglomeration of parishes) asking whether questions had been raised about the propriety of holding a church service, and via email he responded:

Re your query, I am as alarmed as you are at the turn of events. The Christian gospel is compromised. The woman deserted Christ for paganism years ago and a Christian Church is no place for her funeral. Alas I am not the Rector, Just his assistant. I have been away for the w’end and have no details other than what you know already. I understand the Bishop was informed and his advice sought. I take it he has given permission. …

And I wrote to the bishop — and he did not respond.

This funeral has all the makings of an ecclesiastical row. The bishop in question, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, has led the charge in the Church of Ireland on liberalizing abortion laws in the Republic and on changing church teaching on homosexuality. (He is also the brother in law of the Archbishop of Dublin, but that wouldn’t influence things would it?) In 2011 the bishops of Northern Ireland refused to participate in a ceremony where the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory would be present, due to his allowing one of his priests to enter into a gay civil partnership. That crisis appears to have been smoothed over, but the hard feelings remain.

Will the bishop’s permission, or indifference, to the church funeral of a pagan priestess reignite the fires?

The moral of the story, from a journalistic point of view, is to pay attention and to have knowledge about the subject you are covering. It could well have been discretion that prompted the silence from the Irish Times on this oddball bit of news. But a religion reporter in Ireland would know that the Roman Catholic Church, and the principle Protestant Churches — Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist, would forbid a funeral under these circumstances. An analogy might well be reporting a marriage between two persons of the same-sex in Ireland, and not noting that such a marriage would be unlawful under civil and religious law.

The Church of Ireland’s standing committee meets this week, and I expect this issue will be raised (unofficially) amongst the bishops. Let’s wait and see what happens.

First printed in Get Religion.

First woman bishop for Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, September 27, 2013 p 1 October 15, 2013

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The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland has appointed the first Anglican woman bishop for the British Isles.

On 19 September 2013 the bishops appointed the Rev. Patricia Storey to be the Bishop of Meath and Kildare in succession to the Most Rev Richard Clarke, who was translated to Armagh last year.

Bishop-elect Storey becomes the first women Anglican bishop in Europe.  Last week the Church in Wales’ governing body gave approval to women bishops while the Scottish Episcopal Church also allows women bishops. Irish bishops are usually elected by a special meeting of the diocesan synod. However, the 28 May 2013 electoral synod meeting was unable to agree upon a bishop, giving the choice to the House of Bishops.

Mrs. Storey (53) presently serves as rector of St Augustine’s Parish Church, Londonderry in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe.  Married to the Rev Earl Storey, she has two children. Reared in Belfast, she was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and trained for the ministry at the Church of Ireland Theological College. Ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998, she served her curacy in Ballymena in the Diocese of Connor and was Team Vicar in Glenavy in the same diocese before movi9ng to Londonderry in 2004. She is also a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod.

Announcing the appointment Dr Clarke said: “Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.”

The Rt Rev Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, welcomed the appointment as “great news indeed.”

“We know well how gifted the Rev Pat Storey is and how effective her ministry is not only in a parish setting but also far beyond the local church. Her warmth, her deep personal faith and her natural ability to relate to people have enabled her to make a significant impact throughout the city, the diocese and the wider community,” he said.

Mrs. Storey said: ‘I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure,” adding “I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!”

Youth unemployment is killing Europe, Irish bishops warn: The Church of England Newspaper, June 23, 2013 p 6. June 20, 2013

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High rates of unemployment are damaging the character of the next generation of Europeans, the bishops of the Church of Ireland said on 5 June 2013 in a statement released ahead of the G8 Summit in Co. Fermanagh.

Prime Minister David Cameron will host the prime ministers, chancellors and presidents of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States and the European Commission at the 39th G8 summit at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen on 17- 18  June 2013.

The agenda of the annual gathering of world leaders is set by the host country. In her speech at the state opening of Parliament in 2012, The Queen stated “my government will use this opportunity to promote international security and prosperity.” Other items on the agenda include food security, nutrition, and sexual violence in armed conflict.

In their letter the Archbishop touched upon the interrelation of economics and human flourishing — and the church’s failure to speak out. “We acknowledge also with penitence that as believers we have often sidelined consideration of economic affairs as of little relevance to our vocation. This has led not only to apathy about economic debate, but also to a refusal to face up to our economic responsibilities as individuals.”

“From our perspective as religious leaders, the work of civil government is a holy task and a calling of the most sacred kind. The equitable management of economic affairs has the potential to bring many benefits to a de–moralised world. As a subject for academic study, economics was first considered as a branch of ethics – the right ordering of human relationships – and we earnestly hope that something of that spirit can re–invigorate national and international discussion of our fiscal and economic affairs.”

The Archbishops and Bishops called for a dynamic focus on providing special measures to remedy youth unemployment. “The levels of youth unemployment in wealthy countries is not only an economic disaster, it is also a moral tragedy. Useful work is a God–given means to develop both the good of society and the capacity of the individual. Not to have useful paid work is to be deprived of one of the means of developing great virtues.”

“It is through the world of work that most of us learn the habits of regularity, team working, application, balanced judgement, reliability and toleration. For millions of young people to be deprived of the opportunity to acquire and deepen these virtues, which are as necessary for economic development as much as personal well–being, is to store up enormous personal and societal problems for decades to come.”

“The pace of economic recovery is so slow that, unless some special measures are made to cater for this generation, they may well be doomed to spending the most creative and productive years of their lives in a sterile no man’s land of economic inactivity,” the bishops said.

Irish electoral college fails to appoint Bishop of Meath and Kildare: The Church of England Newspaper, June 9, 2013 p 4. June 15, 2013

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The Church of Ireland’s Episcopal Electoral College for the Diocese of Meath and Kildare has failed to appoint a new bishop.

No candidate received the required two-thirds majority from the approximately 60 members of the college after five rounds of balloting at the 28 May 2013 meeting at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.

In January the college elected the Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare, the Ven Leslie Stevenson, as Bishop. However following protestations about his suitability aired in the press and on the Internet Archdeacon Stevenson declined to accept the office.

Delegates who participated in the January election were recalled to participate in last week’s vote after the Church of Ireland’s assessor determined the second election was continuation of the first meeting. The Archbishop of Dublin, and the bishops of Cork and Tuam represented the House of Bishop’s at Tuesday’s neeting.

The Church of Ireland press office stated: “The decision now passes to the House of Bishops, which will meet in due course. The Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Rev Michael Jackson, said: “I wish to express my thanks to all concerned and undertake to now convey this information to the Secretary of the House of Bishops.”

Irish bishops deny pressing bishop-elect to step aside: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 6. May 13, 2013

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The Ven. Leslie Stevenson was not pressured to decline consecration as Bishop of Meath & Kildare, the Archbishop of Dublin said last week.

Dr. Michael Jackson released a statement saying the three bishops who visited the Archdeacon’s home the night before he announced he would not go forward with the ceremony had visited him “in a pastoral capacity, without the expectation of a predetermined outcome to the conversation.”

On 29 April 2013 — three days before he was set to be consecrated  — Archdeacon Stevenson announced that he was declining the post in light of public turmoil over allegations of his alleged personal misconduct.  The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Richard Clarke, on 3 May 2013 responded by releasing a statement denouncing “incorrect statements of fact and unfounded allegations [that] have caused much hurt and distress.”

The House of Bishops had been “informed of circumstances in 1998 which led to the Archdeacon, then incumbent of the Parish of Donaghadee in the Diocese of Down, resigning his office. The Archdeacon has publicly referred to his relationship with a female parishioner, which he acknowledged, both by his resignation, and in recent statements, he should not have allowed.”

He added that: “Following his resignation, the Archdeacon undertook a period of personal discipline, during which he did not exercise parochial ministry. At the end of a period agreed within the House of Bishops, and following discussions both within the House of Bishops and between the Bishop of Down and Dromore and myself (then Bishop of Meath and Kildare), I subsequently instituted Mr Stevenson as incumbent of the Parish of Portarlington in the Diocese of Kildare, and some ten years later as archdeacon.”

Dr. Jackson explained that the bishops’ visit to the Portarlington Rectory was undertaken to express “their personal concern for Leslie”.

“The bishops were not representing the House of Bishops, nor were they seeking to revoke the decision of the House of Bishops who had previously confirmed his election,” he said, adding that “Archdeacon Stevenson, by his own decision, withdrew from the forthcoming consecration.”

Irish bishop-elect stands down: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 6. May 5, 2013

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Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson

The Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare has declined the appointment as bishop of the border diocese after concerns over his suitability were raised – three days before his consecration.

On 28 Jan 2013 the Ven. Leslie Stevenson was selected by the Episcopal Electoral College for Meath and Kildare to succeed Archbishop Richard Clarke as bishop.  Questions over his suitability for the episcopate were soon raised as in 1999 Mr. Stevenson — who would have become Ireland’s first divorced and remarried bishop — resigned from his parish post under a cloud. The bishop-elect’s past became the topic of newspaper scrutiny and speculation on the internet about his moral integrity made his position untenable, sources tell CEN.

Married in 1984 while serving as a curate in East Belfast, Archdeacon Stevenson was divorced in 1992. In 1998 he married a second time while serving as rector of Donaghadee in the Diocese of Down and Dromore. While he was away on his honeymoon, revelations of a “relationship” with a female parishioner were made public – leading to his resignation from the parish and a six month period of “personal discipline” where he left the parish ministry. In 1999 Mr. Stevenson was subsequently appointed rector of Portarlington in the Diocese of Meath and Kildare and archdeacon in 2009.

On 28 April 2013 he released a statement saying:

“I am honoured to have been elected Bishop of Meath and Kildare and appreciate the support and goodwill offered to me by many people from the dioceses and the wider Church of Ireland over recent months. My positive concern for the Church, to which I remain loyal, now leads me to decline the appointment. I wish to broaden and deepen my ministry in the parish and diocese in which I have been called to serve.”

Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore was not able to attend the January election meeting, but subsequently wrote to the bishops expressing his concern. The fracas will likely have wider implications sources tell CEN and may haunt the archbishop, Dr. Clarke, who had full knowledge of the archdeacon’s past.

Luke’s Gospel blankets Derry: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2013 p 2. May 2, 2013

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L–R: Bishop Ken Good (Bishop of Derry & Raphoe), Rev Peter Murray (Superintendent of Methodist City Mission), Monsignor Eamon Martin Mayor Kevin Campbell & Rev Dr Robert Buick – on The Peace Bridge.

SOME 40,000 copies of Luke’s Gospel are to be hand–delivered to every home in Londonderry as part of part of “A Free Gift For All” — an ecumenical initiative of the city’s Protestant and Catholic churches.

On 15 April 2013 Mayor Kevin Campbell was given the first commemorative copy by the Catholic Bishop of Derry Mgr Eamon Martin, the superintendent of the Methodist City Mission the Rev Peter Murray, the clerk of the Derry Presbytery the Rev Dr. Robert Buick and the Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Derry & Raphoe Ken Good.

A spokesperson for the project organisers said: “A Free Gift For All brings together so many strands of good news for out city. We are delighted to present the Mayor with a free gift of the Gospel of Luke. This is the first step in the distribution to all 40,000 households in our city”.

He continued: “It is a unique coming together of the church community in our city to give a gift to our fellow citizens, as a celebration of our designation as the UK City of Culture in 2013”.

Easter messages from across the Communion: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p 6. April 9, 2013

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Easter messages from the overseas leaders of the Anglican Communion sounded a common theme this year of hope and joy. While the archbishops of the church touched upon issues of local concern, each spoke to the victory of Christ over death and the grave.

The Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali urged Christians not to lose heart in the face of economic and political uncertainties. “There could be social pressures in the country and many people might have lost hope. Many people no longer trust fellow human beings, but let the risen Lord Jesus whose victory over death we are celebrating this Easter give us a new hope.”

He also warned of the dangers of alcohol. “I urge our people not to celebrate [Easter] by drinking. They should go to church and worship the Lord and return home. This a time to repent and make our homes, offices, schools and business places more enjoyable and suitable to glorify God who gave us the greatest gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ,” he noted.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, also spoke of the joy found in life in Christ. “In his resurrection from the dead there is the glorious ‘yes’ of the fulfilment, actual and yet to come, of the promises and purposes of God. Through repentance and faith we share in his risen life and at its heart, our calling is to simply say the ‘Amen’ and glorify the God who has triumphed over sin and death.”

The GAFCON leader also urged Christians to reject the “ungodly innovations” coming from Western liberal churches which seek to “substitute human effort and speculation for divine grace and revealed truth.  It is a profound contradiction to say this ‘Amen’ and then go on, as some do, to deny the real physical resurrection of Jesus.”

When Christians say ‘no’ to false teaching it is for the sake of truth. “There can be no more positive a movement than one which gives an unqualified ‘Amen’ to the fulfilment of all God promises in Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of West Africa Dr. Tilewa Johnson said the Christian’s response to the sufferings was to turn towards God. “Where to start? We have tools and guidelines to hand. One of the greatest tools we have is prayer. Prayer is a means of communication with God.”

“As with so many things, it requires practice. We know what it is like when we become close to another human being – a husband, wife, brother, sister or close friend. In time it is possible to read their thoughts, and know what they are going to say before they say it. It is the same with God. To sit in the presence of God – maybe in silence; maybe with a few words – it is possible increasingly to come to know God and the will of God. Gradually we know the way to go,” the Gambian archbishop said.

The Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that when celebrating Easter it was “important” to “re-emphasize the incontrovertible fact that Jesus has risen from the dead and He is alive for ever. Through His resurrection power, therefore we can overcome all sorts of challenges we might have as an individual, as the Church of God and as a Nation.”

The Archbishop called on “all Christians and Nigerians as a whole to reaffirm their trust in God, and in corporate Nigeria.”

“Let us remain resolute and resilient, having our hope in the strength and power of the Almighty God. Our prayer for our country, Nigeria is that we shall overcome the present challenges of lingering insecurity: bloodshed, destruction of lives and property; poverty and political squabbles. We should keep hope alive of a corporate Nigeria,” he said.

Preaching at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told the congregation he had just returned from a retreat in “frozen rural North Wales”, staying in an attic room overlooking the Irish Sea in the mountains of Snowdonia.

“I was there to follow the 30-days Full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola,” he explained “to explore what God was wanting to do in my life.”

But even found that the spiritual journey did not end there as God was leading him “to integrate all I’ve experienced and learnt into my ministry and life” –  “And I certainly came back to find an awful lot had been going on,’ he said.

“The over-riding lesson of my retreat is that God, in his redeeming love, is everywhere. Nothing is beyond his care, or his desire to bring healing and new life to you, to me, to everyone,” the archbishop said.

“If you truly want to know what Easter is all about, look at the places where there are tough challenges, difficult issues, hard wrestling, painful contexts – and where God’s people nonetheless dare to go, and to stay for as long as it takes, witnessing to light and hope and life.” Archbishop Makgoba said.

In in his final Easter message before he retires in July the Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen reflected on his tenure in office. “As I think on my time as Archbishop, naturally I look back and try to judge myself – not with much success!” he says. “Like you, I have a real judge. Think how much more God, who knows all the secrets of our hearts, must be able to hold me to account. It should make us tremble.”

But Easter filled him with hope. “What happened at the first Easter reminds me of the love of God. Through the death of Jesus even I, and all of us, can have forgiveness as we turn to him in sorrow and trust him for our lives” he says.

“Our failures are not the last word over our lives. And, through the resurrection of Jesus I have a great and undeserved hope of my own resurrection and future,” Dr. Jensen said.

Archbishop-elect Philip Richardson of New Zealand reminded Kiwi Christians that “life comes out of death; the horror of crucifixion bears the fruit of redeemed and renewed humanity; the worst that we are capable of becomes the access way to that intimacy of relationship with God that Christ makes possible; it is in the bowl and towel of the servant that true power is expressed; it is in losing ourselves that we are found.”

The “heart of the message of Easter,” he observed was not the “passion or the suffering, but the resurrection.”

“As Martin Luther King rightly reminded us, ‘Hate begets hate, anger begets anger, killing only begets more killing. The only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend is the power of love’,” he said.

In a joint message released with the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada celebrated the bonds of friendship between the two denominations and also urged Christians to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church stated: “Easter celebrates the victory of light and life over darkness and death.  God re-creates and redeems all life from dead, dry, and destroyed bones.  We are released from the bonds of self-obsession, addiction, and whatever would steal away the radical freedom of God-with-us.”

At Easter “our lives re-center in what is most holy and creative, the new thing God is continually doing in our midst,” she said, “practicing vulnerability toward the need and hunger of others around us” thereby cultivating “compassionate hearts.  We join in baptismal rebirth in the midst of Jesus’ own passing-over.”

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, writing from Juba where he was standing holy week with Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, wrote: “This Easter I am looking back,” he said – “I am asking, ‘What does it all mean?’ Whether in Juba or in Pittsburgh – and wherever you find yourself – what I testify is that the Gospel is my strength and my song, and that Jesus has become my salvation.”

“Easter is the day that lights and gives meaning to all the others, wherever I – we – spend it and with whomever I – we – spend it.  The tomb is empty.  The world, the flesh and the devil are defeated.  Jesus is alive.  In Him, the alien becomes familiar, loss becomes gain, sorrow becomes joy, and death becomes life.  This Easter I am also looking around and looking ahead,” Archbishop Robert Duncan wrote.

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Richard Clarke said what Ireland need this Easter was “confidence – a full–blooded confidence – that we actually want to allow Christ to run loose and dangerous in the world around us. We need to recover that spirited confidence to assert that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is not our private property as churchy people, but is truly for the whole of society and the entire world.”

Dr. Barry Morgan the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon preached at Llandaff Cathedral stated that: “If you wanted to sum up God’s work, He is a God who is in the rescue business.  That is the root meaning of the word ‘salvation’ – it means being saved from something or someone.”

“Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too as members of His body, are rescued from sin, despair, meaninglessness, disaster, and death,” he said, adding that “this offer of rescue, of salvation, by Jesus, is for all people not just for the select few – a bit like being rescued by a lifeboat.   When a life-station receives a distress signal, no enquiry is made about the social status of those who need rescuing, or whether they can pay for the service, or whether they are at fault for having got themselves into danger in the first place by being careless in going out without life jackets when a storm was forecast.  Lifeboats simply go to the rescue.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane stated: “We greet with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We look forward to welcoming many people to worship in our churches at Easter.  We hope and pray that they will experience joy and hope in our congregations.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are people of the resurrection.  We are Easter people – shaped in our baptism through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We feel deeply the pain of the world and its people.  We bring compassion and care to the ministry which we exercise in our service of others.  We have a passion for justice.  We are also people of hope.  Because of the resurrection, we believe that good will triumph over evil and life over death.”

Overseas Anglican applause for Francis: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013, p 6. March 26, 2013

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Anglican leaders around the world and joined with Archbishop Justin Welby in applauding the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as the next Pope and 226th Bishop of Rome.

The Bishop of Argentina and former primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, gave Francis high marks as a champion of the poor and critic of government corruption.

In a note released after the election of Cardinal Bergoglio who has taken the name Francis on 13 March 2013 Bishop Venables wrote: “Many are asking me what Jorge Bergoglio is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary.”

“I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him,” Bishop Venables said.

Other Anglican leaders have also praised the election of Pope Francis. Archbishop Peter Jensen, in a statement released just after the election, said “The papacy continues to have huge global significance in testing times for humanity.  We join those who pray that Pope Francis will use the office to further the gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of all humanity.”

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church welcomed “the election of Pope Francis. He is known for his simplicity of life and his compassionate humility. The church in South America expresses vigorous life and a deep commitment to justice for the poor. God has called him to this ministry at a time when its demands seem overwhelming. We pray that God will equip him with the grace which he needs to fulfil the task. We also pray that his many gifts and his experience will enable him to lead the church forward in mission and service.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “We welcome and assure Pope Francis I of our prayers and our best wishes for his future ministry. We hope he will bring an ecumenical perspective to the role, a desire to work with Christians of all traditions and a goodwill to people of other faiths.”

Dr. Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland wrote: “In company with millions of men and women throughout the world of different Christian traditions to his own, I assure the new Pope of our prayers as he begins his new ministry. An Argentinian of European parentage, he brings together in his own person the cultures, hopes and spiritual needs of the first world and of the developing world, so much to be valued amidst the complexities and apprehensions of our globalised earth. He has been a champion of the needs of the poor and dispossessed, and, in the simplicity of his own lifestyle, he has sought to reflect the life of the much–loved saint whose name he now carries in the future, Saint Francis.”

“As the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh I extend also to Cardinal Seán Brady, to Jesuit friends throughout the island and to all the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, our best wishes, with the hopes and prayers of many fellow–Christians, as Pope Francis now embarks on the ministry to which he has been called,” Dr Clarke said.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada noted: The new Pope comes from humble beginnings and he is known to have lived modestly throughout his entire ministry.  In taking the name of Francis after Francis of Assisi he has already given us some indication of the holiness, simplicity, and courage of gospel conviction he will bring to this new ministry.”

“As the new Pope endeavours to call people back to the Faith, to rebuild the Church and to strengthen the integrity of its witness to the Gospel in very diverse global contexts, we join our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers in upholding him our prayers,” he said adding “for Latin Americans this is a particularly proud moment — a moment of great rejoicing!  For from the church there the new Pope carries a passion for evangelism, a stance of solidarity with the poor and a posture of perseverance in the pursuit of peace and justice for all people.”

The presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori was less effusive. The Episcopal Church will pray for the new Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis I, and for the possibility of constructive dialogue and cooperation between our Churches.”

Evangelical elected as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013 p 7. March 18, 2013

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Bishop-elect Ferran Glenfield

Meeting at Church House in Armagh on 4 Feb 2013 the electoral college of the Church of Ireland’s Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, has elected an evangelical clergyman, the Rev. Ferran Glenfield, rector of Hillsborough Parish in the Diocese of Down and Dromore as bishop in succession to the Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke.

A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin and Oxford, Mr. Glenfield served his curacy in the Diocese of Cork and in 1996 became rector of Kill o’the Grange Parish in Blackrock in the Diocese of Dublin where he served for sixteen years before moving to Hillsborough in 2012.

The bishop–elect said: ‘I am very surprised but deeply honoured to be asked to serve in this capacity as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. While the news is coupled with sadness in leaving Hillsborough, I look forward to working in the United Dioceses which is a very special part of the world.’

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Richard Clarke said, ‘I have known Ferran since we were both clergy in Cork Diocese and am an admirer of his intellect, energy and spirituality, and I wish him well in the future.’

The election must first be approved House of Bishops before a consecration date is set.

Bishop of Meath & Kildare elected: The Church of England Newspaper, February 14, 2013 March 15, 2013

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Bishop-elect Leslie Stevenson of Meath & Kildare

The Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, has been elected Bishop of Meath and Kildare at a meeting of the diocesan electoral college held at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin on 28 Jan 2013.

Archdeacon Stevenson (53) the Rector of Portarlington in Kildare will succeed Archbishop Richard Clarke as bishop, following his translation to Armagh last December.

Educated at the University of Ulster and the Church of Ireland Theological College, Bishop-elect Stevenson served in Northern Ireland in the Diocese of Down & Dromore until his appointment to Portarlington in 1999.

In a statement released following his election, the bishop–elect said: ‘I have served in Meath and Kildare for over thirteen years and enjoyed a very happy working relationship with the now Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Clarke. Now I am about to serve the diocese in a new way as bishop. I am looking forward to working in a rural diocese which I have come to know so well and to the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead as well as making a contribution to civic life. I also look forward to working with my fellow bishops in due course.’

The Church of Ireland’s House of Bishops must affirm the election and at that point a date for his consecration will be set, the Church of Ireland Press Office said.

Bishop of Meath & Kildare elected: The Church of England Newspaper, February 10, 2013 February 15, 2013

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Bishop-elect Leslie Stevenson of Meath & Kildare

The Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, has been elected Bishop of Meath and Kildare at a meeting of the diocesan electoral college held at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin on 28 Jan 2013.

Archdeacon Stevenson (53) the Rector of Portarlington in Kildare will succeed Archbishop Richard Clarke as bishop, following his translation to Armagh last December.

Educated at the University of Ulster and the Church of Ireland Theological College, Bishop-elect Stevenson served in Northern Ireland in the Diocese of Down & Dromore until his appointment to Portarlington in 1999.

In a statement released following his election, the bishop–elect said: ‘I have served in Meath and Kildare for over thirteen years and enjoyed a very happy working relationship with the now Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Clarke. Now I am about to serve the diocese in a new way as bishop. I am looking forward to working in a rural diocese which I have come to know so well and to the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead as well as making a contribution to civic life. I also look forward to working with my fellow bishops in due course.’

The Church of Ireland’s House of Bishops must affirm the election and at that point a date for his consecration will be set, the Church of Ireland Press Office said.

Church of Ireland rejects abortion on demand: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2013, p 3. January 28, 2013

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The Church of Ireland opposes abortion on demand, but believes exceptions based upon “undeniable medical necessity” should be permitted under law.

Last week the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Michael Jackson and Mr. Samuel Harper, Secretary of the Irish General Synod, testified before the Joint Committee on Health and Children of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) as part of three days of public hearings on the implementation of the Government decision following the publication of the Expert Group Report into matters relating to A, B & C v. Ireland.

The case of A, B & C v. Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights ECHR 2032 (2010) held there was no right for a women to have an abortion, although it held Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualified for a legal abortion under current Irish law.

In their prepared statement to the committee, the Church of Ireland leaders said they welcomed the government’s desire “to bring clarity” to the issue.

“This is a matter of almost indescribable complexity – both human and medical. We fully recognize that any decision which, in respect of a woman’s health, results in a termination is a terribly weighty one,” they said.

The Church of Ireland “stands with the notion of ‘real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother in making decisions on terminations of pregnancies. Our statement flows from the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1958 which uses the similar phrase: ‘strict and undeniable medical necessity,’ as follows: ‘In the strongest terms, Christians reject the practice of induced abortion or infanticide, which involves the killing of a life already conceived (as well as a violation of the personality of the mother) save at the dictate of strict and undeniable medical necessity’.”

Following the hearing, Archbishop Jackson and Mr Harper said the “Church of Ireland opposes abortion but recognises that there are exceptional cases of strict and undeniable medical necessity. We believe the proposal to legislate and regulate in the area of abortion is overdue and welcome.

There was a variety of opinion within the Church of Ireland on what constituted “exceptional cases” they said, “but agreement that it includes circumstances where the continuation of the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.”

However, they stated the Church of Ireland “emphasises the right to life and this includes the equal right to life of the mother and of the unborn child.”

Belfast flag protests prompt calls for peace and prayer: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 5. December 28, 2012

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The Anglican bishops of Belfast have urged calm in the wake of a City Council vote restricting the flying of the Union flag at City Hall.

Last week the City Council voted to restrict the flying of the flag to set days of the week, prompting protests from loyalist groups.  The Police Service of Northern Ireland reported that 34 people had been arrested over the weekend following protests in the city centre. Death threats were also reported to have been made against some members of the council.

On 4 Dec 2012, Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore and Bishop Alan Abernathy of Connor released a statement condemning the “violence which took place in different parts of Belfast last night during and after the meeting of Belfast City Council. Whether we agree with the decision to fly the Union Flag on designated days or not, no one has a right to react in ways which abuse or harm other human beings. The awfulness of the situation was heightened by the beauty of the Christmas lights and market on the other side of the City Hall.”

Bishop Miller also released a statement last week in support of Naomi Long, the Member of Parliament for East Belfast, who was reported to have received death threats.

There can be “no moral justification for such a threat or acts of violence in the name of ‘protest’, however strongly held one’s views are on any symbols of identity or allegiance,” Bishop Miller said on 7 Dec. “ To resort to intimidation and attack is an affront to the high values of democratic freedom within the United Kingdom and to its flag and offers nothing to our society in Northern Ireland.”

The two Anglican bishops said the “vast majority in Northern Ireland want this province to be the kind of place where all people and traditions are respected, and where there is a good future for our children.”

The urged Ulster to take the path of peace and pray that “healing would come into all the fear, bitterness and uncertainty which lies only just below the surface in our society.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christmas sermons from across Britain: Anglican Ink, December 25, 2012 December 26, 2012

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is urging people to go and ‘join the human race’ this Christmas and become agents of transformation and renewal. In his final Christmas sermon in Canterbury Cathedral Dr Williams says the purpose of the Christian message isn’t to defend religion or make the church credible, but to pose a challenge to everyone to reconsider who they are: “Here is something so extraordinary that it interrupts our world; here is something that – like Moses in the story of the Burning Bush – makes you ‘turn aside to see’, that stops you short.  Faith begins in the moment of stopping … the moment when you can’t just walk on as you did before …”

The full text of the sermon can be found here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, Bishop Justin Welby of Durham preached a Christmas Eve Sermon and a Christmas Day Sermon at Durham Cathedral, which touched upon poverty and social discontent in Britain. He stated it was “very easy to be despondent” about the state of the church and the world.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

New primate of All-Ireland installed in Armagh: The Church of England Newspaper, December 17, 2012 December 20, 2012

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Ireland needs to move past its culture of sectarian anger and grievance, the new Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Richard Clarke, said last week at his service of installation at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and live lives modeled upon the “courtesy of God.”

The 15 Dec 2012 service began on an awkward note.  As he knocked on the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral with his crosier, the head of his staff snapped off.  However, the rest of the ceremony passed off without incident.

Speaking to a congregation that included Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, government representatives from the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as church leaders including Cardinal Sean Brady the Roman Catholic primate, the Irish House of Bishops, and the Archbishop of Wales Dr. Barry Morgan Dr. Clarke said Irish attitudes needed to change.

“We live,” he told the congregation, “in a culture within which anger rather than courtesy is the most prevalent behavioural pattern. Indeed, many seem to find their only focus and meaning in life through constant rage. Salman Rushdie has coined a useful phrase, ‘outrage identity’, for those who can find any meaning for themselves only in their anger at others. True courtesy is the converse of spiteful anger. And courtesy is not simply good manners – desirable as they most certainly are – but goes a great deal further.”

Dr. Clarke added the “God we worship is a God of beauty and of truth, and our language and our actions are to mirror this.”

Citing Archbishop William Temple’s words, Dr. Clarke asked the congregation to “pray for me, not simply that I may be wise or good although for these I need your prayers, but pray for me also that I may never let go the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ but ever walk in daily fellowship with him.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sacraments and Mission the focus of 4th Porvoo Theological Conference: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012, p 6. December 12, 2012

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The interplay between sacraments and Christian mission was the focus of last month’s meeting of the 4th Theological Conference of the Porvoo Communion of Churches hosted by the Church of Denmark.

Conference presentations focused on the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, making the church itself a sign to the world of the Kingdom of God. Canon Paul Avis offered a keynote address on Baptism that dealt with the essential identity of the church, which comes from God in word and sacrament and is an instrument of the mission of God. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Michael Jackson offered a paper also on the Eucharist as a sacrament of unity and mission in Christ.

In light of the papers on Baptism and Eucharist, the delegates examined the place of the sacraments in light of declining Christian confidence in a multicultural, multifaith and increasingly secularised Europe.

Delegates noted that the church was now working within a culture where many people were estranged from the Christian faith or had no contact with the church.  This led to situations where some who had not been baptised sought to receive Holy Communion, they noted, raising questions of whether the sacraments should be seen as a tool for mission.

The delegates adopted a closing statement highlighting the the vital link between sacraments and mission, “since sacraments are the life blood of the church, and mission is the core mandate of the church.”

Representing the Church of England were Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, Dean Frances Ward, Canon Robin Ward, Dr Rachel Jordan, Bishop Martin Wharton and the Rev. Leslie Nathaniel, Canon Nigel Lloyd, and Canon Avis.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop questions why a dismissed priest was licensed in Norfolk: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 28, 2012

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The Rev. William Stewart and Bishop Graham James

A Norfolk clergyman has resigned after allegations of misconduct committed while he served in the Church of Ireland were posted on the internet. On 11 Nov 2012, the congregation of Holy Trinity Loddon in Norfolk learned their vicar, the Rev. William Stewart had stepped down. The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Alan Winton said Mr. Stewart had resigned due to a “campaign focused on a matter from his past”.

However a former Archbishop of Dublin stated he was surprised to learn Mr. Stewart had been serving in the Church of England. On 12 Nov 2012 Church News Ireland published a statement from Dr. John Neill saying: “It has been brought to my notice that my name has been mentioned in reports concerning the Rev William Stewart who has resigned as Vicar of a parish in the Church of England.   Whilst extending pastoral support to him and his family when he resigned from CORE Church in Dublin some years ago, I consistently refused to give him clearance to apply for any further ministry in Ireland or overseas.”

Mr Stewart was inducted in the Holy Trinity Church, Loddon, on 16 June 2011 by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, after serving in Dublin.

“A number of parishioners have been supportive of him and his family but he has increasingly felt that under the present circumstances, he is no longer able to continue his ministry,” Bishop Winton said.

However, “in appointing William Stewart the diocese followed the normal procedure of seeking assurance from the Church of Ireland that he was a priest in good standing, and a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check was made and returned clear.”

“On this basis he was offered the post of Rector of the Chet Valley Benefice in good faith. When information about William was posted on the internet, the diocese consulted Norfolk Police.”

The bishop said that the police advised the diocese to “manage” the affair “in accordance with its normal procedures”.

Although Mr Stewart has made an “excellent start”, Bishop Winton said that “as a result of the information published on the internet, he has increasingly found the strain on him and his family to be too much, and has tendered his resignation.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Irish archbishop’s election a vote for ‘no change’: The Church of England Newspaper, October 14, 2012 p 5. October 16, 2012

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Archbishop-elect Richard Clarke

The Church of Ireland has elected a centrist to serve as the next Archbishop of Armagh, preserving the status quo in the increasingly divided church.  On 4 October 2012 the Irish House of Bishops selected the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Rev Richard Clarke, to succeed Dr. Alan Harper as the 105th Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

Last week’s vote postpones a potential North/South split within the Irish Church over homosexuality. Considered a liberal churchman within the House of Bishops, Dr. Clarke has moved to the center in recent years, supporting the course taken by Dr. Harper in avoiding a showdown over homosexuality.

Bishop Paul Colton of Cork, Cloyne and Ross and Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel and Ossory broke with their colleagues over the issue at the last meeting of General Synod and have called for a revision of church teaching on homosexuality.  Bishop Burrows’ brother in law, Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin and Bishop Patrick Rooke of Tuam, Killala and Achonry have expressed sympathy for the liberal stance, but have not openly supported change.

The evangelical bishops of Ulster, Bishop Ken Clarke of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh, who retired last month, Bishop Harold Miller of Down & Dromore, Bishop Alan Abernethy of Connor, Bishop Ken Good of Derry & Raphoe, and Bishop John McDowell of Clogher have opposed altering the church’s teaching on homosexuality.

Dr. Clarke of Meath and along with the Bishop of Limerick have sought to mediate between the two wings. The House of Bishops must now fill vacancies in the Diocese of Meath and Kildare and the Diocese Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.  The results of these elections, will likely determine whether Dr. Clarke can preserve the status quo and avoid a show down over gay blessings and clergy.

Following the announcement of his election, Dr. Clarke said “I truly feel neither worthy of the heritage into which I am to enter nor adequate for the tasks that lie ahead. The God of Christian belief is, however, a God of grace rather than a god who looks for human self-sufficiency. All I can pledge is that I will give this task the very best of which I am capable, and the prayer of all of us must be that God in his grace will enable some good to come from this.”

I look forward to fresh challenges and joys, along with new friendships and discoveries, in the “phase of ministry in the Gospel that now lies ahead, both in the Diocese of Armagh and within the wider fellowship of the Church of Ireland and beyond. Please pray for the Church of Ireland and for me in these weeks ahead as I prepare to take up this new responsibility.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 52: October 12, 2012 October 12, 2012

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Kevin and George bring the latest Anglican News from around the world. This week they discuss the state of Religious News Reporting, the retirement of Charles Bennison, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Vatican II and much much more. Twitter #AU52 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Archbishop’s warning to Britain’s “unreformed elites”: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5. October 5, 2012

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Dr Alan Harper (center) at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh before the start of his final service as Primate of All Ireland

The Archbishop of Armagh celebrated his last Eucharist as Primate of All Ireland last week with an attack on the moral failure of British and Irish political leaders.

On 21 September 2012 civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries from across Ireland joined Dr. Alan Harper in his final service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. In his sermon Dr. Harper noted “contemporary society” has been confronted by a “perfect storm of moral ambivalence, and that powerful people ruined the lives of others whilst assuming their own invulnerability through a culture of impunity.”

The Scriptures taught that “moral ambivalence and a culture of pragmatism and expediency within the body politic or among major organs of society visit disastrous consequences upon the nation, and especially upon the poor and the powerless,” Dr. Harper said. And “by contrast, moral and spiritual integrity in high places leads to the flowering of both the nation and individual citizens at every level.”

“So, what of today? People talk of the threat to society posed by moral decline. The Prime Minister speaks of a ‘broken society’: feckless parenting, feral children, moral indifferentism, marital breakdown, benefit dependency and fraud, the growth of a disenchanted, disengaged under class. He called the Tottenham riots a ‘wake up call’. He mentioned banking, MPs’ expenses, phone hacking, greed, irresponsibility and entitlement.”

“If it is the case that our society is broken, with the boundaries of moral rectitude dissolving into ambivalence, blame cannot be heaped solely on the poor and the powerless: it was the Liverpool families who told the truth, not the police! An unreformed elite cannot impose probity on a struggling underclass.

Dr. Harper said “probity must be modelled at the top and begin with the elite, otherwise there subsists no moral authority on the part of governors to justify an intent to restore the moral and social health of the governed. The governors – leaders in the political, institutional, commercial, and spiritual life of our nations, including those holding authority within the media, must address first and with the greatest urgency the poverty of their own moral precepts and the fragile state of their own moral condition.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Caretaker primate elected for Ireland: Anglican Ink, October 4, 2012 October 5, 2012

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The Irish House of Bishops has elected the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Rev Richard Clarke as the 105th Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

The 4 Oct 2012 announcement elevates the church’s senior serving bishop to the top post, and postpones a potential North/South split within the Irish Church over homosexuality. Considered a liberal churchman within the House of Bishops, Dr. Clarke has moved to the center in recent years, supporting the course taken by his predecessor, Dr. Alan Harper in avoiding a clash between the liberal and conservative wings of the church.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishop welcomes Loyalist parade apology: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 6. September 27, 2012

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Members of the Royal Black Institution parading in Lisburn in 2007

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Alan Harper, has welcomed the public statement of apology from a loyalist group that last month violated a Parades Commission order not to play music outside a Catholic Church in Belfast.

The Parades Commission had placed restrictions on the 25 August march of the Royal Black Institution after riots erupted on 12 July after loyalist band of the Orange Order played a sectarian song outside a Catholic Church.

The band of the Royal Black Institution ignored the ban and other bands, which were restricted to the playing of a single drum beat, also breached the ruling. This led to a sectarian confrontation which left seven police officers injured as they attempted to restore order.

Dr. Harper said he welcomed the statement of regret from the Royal Black Institution for “any offence caused to the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s Church last weekend and which states the desire for the Institution to play its part in a peaceful civic society. I also welcome the Institution’s request to meet with Protestant Church leaders such as myself as I believe that we must all engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue in our society. I trust that everyone respects cultural and religious freedom and that Christian people display respect, generosity and love to others.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

United chaplaincies for Queen’s University Belfast: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 6. September 27, 2012

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Signing the Covenant at Queen’s University Belfast: back, from left: Rev John Alderdice, Methodist Chaplain at Queen’s; Prof Alan Hibbert, Chair, Church of Ireland Executive Committee; Rev Donald Ker, Methodist chair of the Chaplaincy Committee; Rev Barry Forde, Church of Ireland Chaplain at Queen’s. Front, L–R The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor and Rev Heather Morris, Methodist District Superintendent. Photo: Church of Ireland Press Office

A Local Covenant Partnership has been signed between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church to amalgamate their chaplaincies at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Last week the Bishop of Connor Alan Abernethy and the District Superintendent of the Belfast Methodist Circuit the Rev Heather Morris signed on behalf of their churches, which will see a common worship, mission and outreach programmes, student centres and accommodation schemes for the two churches.

The Rev Barry Forde, vicar of Church of the Resurrection, Belfast and Anglican Chaplain at the university said he and Methodist Chaplain the Rev John Alderdice will be “forming a single Covenant Management Group to oversee the life, vision and mission of the Student Centre, and as such marks the end of the beginning of what we hope and pray will be a Spirit–filled, Christ–following, and God–glorifying future for the work of the Chaplaincies at Queens.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Irish church teachers colleges to merge: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 7 September 24, 2012

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The Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE) will join two Catholic and a secular institution to form a University level college for teacher training in the Republic. CICE will amalgamate with St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education and Dublin City University to form the new university, the heads of the schools announced on 5 Sept 2012.

The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, who serves as chairman of the Board of Governors of CICE welcomed the project. “To be part of such an exciting development nationally for Initial Teacher Education is the opening of a new chapter for CICE. As an institution, we have embraced change and development positively at various points throughout our history and are committed to doing so again.’

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he was “very pleased at the new opportunities offered with the participation of CICE. This is a further sign of a new level of ecumenical cooperation between Archbishop Jackson and myself.”

The President of DCU, Prof Brian MacCraith, noted the “proposed research–led Institute of Education has the potential to play a central role in transforming the future of Irish education.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 43, June 18, 2012 June 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of Ireland, Property Litigation, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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After a one week hiatus George and Kevin return. Allan Haley brings breaking news from the Supreme Court concerning TEC churches and the Dennis Canon. Your hosts talk about their adventures at the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly, including the topic everyone was ‘not’ talking about. David Ould brings news from Australia and England while his twin brother Peter is enjoying a vacation with is family at Eurodisney.

Sexualty fight heats up as Irish Archbishop announces his retirement: Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 June 18, 2012

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The Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Alan Harper, has announced that he will step down by 1 October 2012, leaving his successor the task of moderating the church’s spirited debate over homosexuality.

In a statement released last week the Church of Ireland Press Office said Dr. Harper “will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland as normal until 30 September 2012.”

“The Church of Ireland House of Bishops will consider in due course the selection of a successor,” the press office said.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said: ‘In responding to the Archbishop of Armagh’s announcement of his forthcoming retirement, I wish to pay tribute to his strong commitment to fairness and steadfastness in office.”

“Across the Church of Ireland, Archbishop Harper has sought to enable a wide range of voices to be heard on a broad spectrum of topics,” Dr. Jackson said. “Together with all my fellow–bishops, and the Church of Ireland at large, I wish Archbishop Harper and Mrs Harper everything that is best in retirement.”.

Born in Tamworth, Staffordshire in 1944, Dr. Harper was educated at Leeds University and worked for the Archeological Survey of Northern Ireland before he entered Trinity College Dublin to train for the ministry.

Ordained deacon in 1978 and priest in 1979, Dr. Harper began his ministry in Northern Ireland in Connor diocese from 1978-1980. In 1980 he moved to Derry diocese to be incumbent of Moville and then became incumbent of Christ Church Londonderry from 1982-1986. Returning to Connor diocese Dr. Harper served as incumbent of Malone from 1986-2002.

On 17 December 2001 Dr. Harper was elected Bishop of Connor and on 9 January 2007 he was elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by the House of Bishops.

Tensions over homosexuality and church have dominated the deliberations of the Church of Ireland during the last few years of Dr. Harper’s tenure as primate. The outgoing archbishop has sought to engender conversation over this issue, while maintaining the current church teachings on human sexuality.

At its May meeting of General Synod, the church adopted Motion 8 which reaffirmed its traditional teaching on marriage and rejected gay marriage and gay clergy. In the wake of the Motion 8 vote evangelical and liberal bishops indicated the fight was far from over.

Speaking to the Belfast News Letter, Bishop Harold Miller of Down & Dromore, a leading Evangelical bishop, said he would like the Church of Ireland to adopt a policy like that of the Church of England which requires clergy who enter into civil unions to give assurances to their bishop that their private conduct is in conformance with the church’s standards of clergy conduct.

The recent vote by synod had made clear that “sexual intercourse is only properly within marriage, that marriage can only be defined as between one man and one woman for the Church of Ireland, so same-sex marriage is out and that outside marriage what is asked of people is that they live chaste lives,” the bishop said.

Permitting the Dean of Leithlin to enter into a civil union was a “serious situation,” the bishop said, and “it would be very helpful to hear some clarification about the situation.

One of the two bishops who voted against Motion 8, Bishop Paul Colton of Cork told his diocesan synod that he would not back away from his commitment to “diversity”.

“Are we not instead called to live uncomfortably and prophetically in a place where the edges of belonging are fuzzy rather than defined; attracting people in rather than pushing them out; breaking down barriers; taking down walls of division; including rather than excluding,” he asked on 9 June 2012.

“I believe and hope that in this part of the Church of Ireland, the response to lesbian and gay fellow Christians will be marked by continued welcome and inclusion and, indeed, there is, to my mind, a sound Christian charter and path in those words I saw over the door of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver: ‘Open doors; Open Hearts; Open Minds’,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Irish primate to retire: Anglican Ink, June 7, 2012 June 7, 2012

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Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin and Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh

The Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Alan Harper, has announced that he will step down by 1 October 2012.

In a statement posted on the Church of Ireland website, the Church of Ireland Press Office said Dr. Harper “will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland as normal until 30 September 2012.”

“The Church of Ireland House of Bishops will consider in due course the selection of a successor,” the press office said.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said: ‘In responding to the Archbishop of Armagh’s announcement of his forthcoming retirement, I wish to pay tribute to his strong commitment to fairness and steadfastness in office.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Evangelical pressure on pro-gay Irish bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2012 p 7. May 31, 2012

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Bishop Michael Burrows

Evangelical leaders in the Church of Ireland are pressing the church to question the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory and the Dean of Leithlin, asking that they clarify their actions and views on homosexuality.

In a statement printed on its website last week, Reform Ireland criticized the Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel & Ossory for his support of gay clergy civil unions and his vote against Motion 8 at last week’s meeting of General Synod in Dublin.

The Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller – a co-sponsor of Motion 8 with Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin – told the Belfast News Letter the man at the centre of the gay clergy civil union row, Dean Tom Gordon, should clarify whether his gay civil union was platonic or sexual.

The 10 May post on the conservative Evangelical group’s website was sharply critical of Bishop Burrows, who it called “one of the bishops at the centre of the homosexual row.”

His “unilateral actions instigated the greatest degree of disunity the Church of Ireland has seen in the modern era, was one of those whose remarks led to the motion, affirming the traditional Christian belief in marriage as outlined in Canon 31, being dismissed: this, despite the fact that the House of Bishops themselves had as a body brought the motion to the General Synod in the first place!”

“What a shambles! It was even applauded – at least by those keen to introduce homosexuality as a valid Christian lifestyle in the Church of Ireland,” Reform said, adding that it “begs the question what unity is there in the Church of Ireland and what sort of behaviour are the House of Bishops modelling?”

Bishop Burrows did not respond to a request for comments.

After being withdrawn from consideration Motion 8, which affirmed the church’s traditional moral teachings and implicitly rejected gay marriage and non-celibate gay clergy, was reintroduced by the bishops on the second day of synod with slight amendments, and was overwhelmingly approved by all houses of synod on the third day of proceedings following four hours of debate.  Bishop Burrows, along with Bishop Paul Colton of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, voted against the motion.

In an interview published 15 May 2012 with the News Letter, Bishop Miller said he would like the Church of Ireland to adopt a policy like that of the Church of England which requires clergy who enter into civil unions to give assurances to their bishop that their private conduct is in conformance with the church’s standards of clergy conduct.

Bishop Miller said that “as I understand it,” the Church of England’s position is that “if a minister is in a civil partnership that person has to make it clear to their bishop that it’s not a sexual relationship.”

“The Church of Ireland has not yet made that clear,” the bishop said.

The recent vote by synod had made clear that “sexual intercourse is only properly within marriage, that marriage can only be defined as between one man and one woman for the Church of Ireland, so same-sex marriage is out and that outside marriage what is asked of people is that they live chaste lives,” the bishop said.

Dean Tom Gordon’s entering into a civil union was a “serious situation,” the bishop said.

“You can see what has happened in the church – and I think it would be very helpful to hear some clarification about the situation.

“I mean, I don’t know, for example, if Dean Tom Gordon would be prepared to clarify the situation and say: I am not living in a sexual relationship. That may well be the case,” Bishop Miller said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Irish General Synod affirms traditional stance on marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2012 p 7. May 28, 2012

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The General Synod of the Church of Ireland has re-affirmed its teachings on marriage and human sexuality, turning aside a procedural challenge brought by liberal members of Synod to silence debate.  Following the lead of the House of Bishops, the Irish General Synod rejected gay marriage and gay clergy, but endorsed the creation of a “safe space” for further debate on these issues.

On the opening day of the meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, the synod received for review Motion 8 proposed by the Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Michael Jackson and the Bishop of Down & Dromore Harold Miller in the name of the Church of Ireland’s Standing Committee. The three part motion entitled “Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief” asked Synod to affirm that there is “no other understanding of marriage” than that found in Canon 31.

“The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and life-long, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”

The motion further asked the church to affirm that “faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’.”

In the run up to the Dublin meeting, liberal advocacy groups have savaged the motion and a website, 8anoway.com, was set up to lobby for its defeat.

When the part A of Motion 8 was placed before synod on 10 May 2012, the Dean of Cork, the Very Rev. Nigel Dunne, raised a point of order.

He stated that he believed Motion 8 would introduce a change in the Church of Ireland’s teaching on the doctrine of marriage. “Canon 31 gives first place to the procreation and nurture of children,” the dean said.

However the Church of Ireland’s “Marriage Service II does not. Marriage Service II is quite clear that sex and sexual intercourse is firstly to strengthen the relationship. The procreation of children comes second.”

By endorsing Motion 8a, Dean Dunne argued, the General Synod would be voting for a “modification or alteration of doctrine,” a procedure not permitted under the rules of synod by a motion, but must be brought forward by a bill.  In opposition to the Dean’s objection, other speakers noted that Motion 8a followed the precedence set in the Church of Ireland’s Rite I for marriage.

However, Lady Brenda Sheil said that the motion was “bringing forward a new thing which will need a Bill” argued the language of Motion 8a was creating new doctrine by privileging Rite I over Rite II.

Asked for his opinion, synod’s legal assessor stated that the Dean of Cork was correct in that a Bill was required that was endorsed by a two-thirds majority of synod to make a change in doctrine. However, the assessor stated he was not competent to determine whether the motion did change doctrine.

The Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows – whose tacit approval of the gay civil union of the Dean of Leithlin had brought the issue of gay marriage and gay clergy to a head last year – rose and told the synod he was “sorry to cause trouble.”

To which, the chair of the meeting, the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Alan Harper, responded “apology accepted.” Bishop Burrows then stated that in the light of the reference to the conference on sexuality in Cavan held by General Synod in March, the conventional wisdom was that Motion 8a was about homosexuality.  As the Church of Ireland did not have a doctrine on homosexuality, the bishop argued, it was inappropriate to create new doctrine in this way.

Members of the Liturgical Advisory Committee which prepared Marriage Rite 2 for the 2004 Prayer Book stated there had been no intention to alter the church’s marriage doctrine by altering the order of the benefits of marriage in the ritual. Dr. Harper stated that it was his view that when the new prayer book was introduced there had been no intent to change the doctrine of marriage in the church.

However, when dealing with matters of such importance to the church the overriding concern is the avoidance of doubt. Consequently due to the issues raised by certain points in motion 8a Dr. Harper said he was going to rule that it could not be taken. He was sorry to have to take this step but it was necessary “for the avoidance of doubt” about variations in the doctrine of the church.

Dr. Jackson and Bishop Miller then withdrew motions 8b and 8c.

In its report the following day, the Belfast News Letter stated the decision was a “significant victory for liberals in the church who had been assiduously lobbying in the days leading up to the synod to have the motion defeated – and who were last night buoyant.”

However, evangelical members of synod told The Church of England Newspaper that the issue would not go away and that the bishops would “do something” to resurrect the motion. After the close of business for the first day’s session the bishops met in private with the two lay and two clergy Synod Secretaries. At the start of the second day, Dr. Harper told synod the bishops had dealt with the technical objections raised the previous day and would present an amended consolidated motion to the synod the next day.

On the final day of synod, 12 May 2012, a revised Motion 8 was introduced by Dr. Jackson and Bishop Miller. Dr. Jackson told the synodthis matter is a complex and sensitive one for many individuals and couples” and required the church to proceed in a “climate of critical trust and mutual respect”

In presenting the revised motion the bishops had the “firm and fervent desire of enabling members of our church to engage with what are some of the most complex, pressing and, to many, private aspects of contemporary life, understood from a sexual perspective. It is my hope, and that of the bishop of Down & Dromore, that we are, in fact, offering something of value to the Church of Ireland.”

Seconding the motion, Bishop Miller affirmed that “the essential contents of this motion have emerged from the corporate thinking of the bishops. They have been carefully crafted with a balance in content and wording which has been through many stages and revisions.”

The church would listen to all points of view on these issues, the bishop said, but listening did not imply that all points of view were equally valid. However, “we need to find a starting point for a way forward, to begin the journey together. I suggest this motion is our starting point, and the journey together will hopefully be both an interesting and productive one.”

Four hours of debate ensued.  The Archdeacon of Kilmore refuted the notion that the Church of Ireland was divided on this issue between a conservative north and liberal south, saying the traditional view was the majority view across Ireland.

The Rev. Ali Calvin said she had received calls from people in the pews in Cork and Ossory who were dismayed because they wondered whether their leadership was teaching new things about sex and marriage — the Bishops of Cork and Cashel & Ossory are among the leaders of the liberal wing of the Irish church.

An ecumenical participant, Fr. Irenaeus of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, told synod this issue had been settled some 1700 years ago with the church’s debate about the imago dei.  God’s image in us is marred and the likeness to God erased, but Orthodox spirituality was about recovering the likeness to be like God, he argued, and homosexuality was not part of this likeness.

The Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton, called for rejection of the consolidated motion saying that sex had overshadowed the other work of the church.  He was also concerned that “for the first time in our history that we are using a motion” to address a major issue. He was “not convinced that this was the right way”, and that “by affirming formularies we are in fact weakening them.”

Four amendments were put to synod, and voting by divisions was taken.  All of the amendments failed and the motion was adopted by the clergy 81 – 53, laity 154 – 60, and the bishops 10 – 2.

Archdeacon Philip Patterson of Belfast told CEN the motion attempted three things:

“First to affirm the clear teaching of the Church that marriage is between one man and one woman, that it is in intent life-long and is the only appropriate context for sexual intercourse.  Outside of marriage Christians are called to lead chaste lives.”

“Secondly to affirm that the Church is a place of welcome and discipleship for all who seek to follow the way of Christ, that there is real regret when the Church has sometimes failed to achieve this and that our attitudes must not be unbiblical or uncharitable.”

“Thirdly to chart a way forward to progress the discussion through a Church-wide debate, to that end the Standing Committee is tasked to bring back to next year’s Synod a proposed Select Committee with appropriate terms of reference.”

The synod had looked to their bishops for leadership, Archdeacon Patterson said, and have “found that leadership and have followed it.”

He noted that it was “astonishing that those who have so long called for a listening process, conversation and a safe place don’t see their desires fulfilled in the actions of the Synod.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 40: May 21, 2012 May 21, 2012

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Kevin and George bring news from the Episcopal Church and a General Convention resolution to allow Communion without Baptism. Ireland passes motion 8 during their General Synod despite creative use of Roberts Rules. The Roman Catholic church met with Anglican leaders in Hong Kong for the third time. New Hampshire is going to elect a new Bishop tomorrow. Canon Phil Ashley explains how AMiA Bishops are moving into ACNA and which Canons are helping that transition.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 40: May 21, 2012 May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, ARCIC, Church of England, Church of Ireland, New Hampshire, The Episcopal Church.
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Kevin and George bring news from the Episcopal Church and a General Convention resolution to allow Communion without Baptism. Ireland passes motion 8 during their General Synod despite creative use of Roberts Rules. The Roman Catholic church met with Anglican leaders in Hong Kong for the third time. New Hampshire is going to elect a new Bishop tomorrow. Canon Phil Ashley explains how AMiA Bishops are moving into ACNA and which Canons are helping that transition.

Irish synod asked to affirm traditional marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 6 May 17, 2012

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Two senior bishops have asked the Church of Ireland to reaffirm the church’s traditional teachings on marriage, human sexuality and clergy continence.

Motion 8 entitled “Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief” will be brought before the 10 May 2012 session of General Synod meeting in Dublin. The three part motion submitted by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson, and the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller asks Synod to affirm that there is “no other understanding of marriage” than that found in Canon 31.

“The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and life-long, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”

The motion further asks the church to affirm that “faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’.”

The Church of Ireland has been threatened with schism between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland in the wake of revelations the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory permitted the Dean of Leithlin 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.

The outcry forced Bishop Michael Burrows to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam and has sparked protests. A statement issued by the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine (Ireland) and Reform Ireland said: “If the orthodox view of marriage and sexuality is allowed to be shattered by the actions of Dean Gordon and others then it is difficult to see how a respectful fellowship can be maintained.”

In a pastoral letter released on 5 October 2011 the bishops called for a moratorium on clergy entering into same-sex civil partnerships and also asked critics of clergy civil unions to moderate their language while they debate the issue. The bishops called a special closed session of synod to meet in the Spring to “discuss the content of this Pastoral Letter, to assist the church in becoming more fully informed, and to explore wider issues related to human sexuality.”

Motion 8 asks synod to also foster an environment of safety within the Church of Ireland in support of its on-going reflection by affirming:

“A continuing commitment to love our neighbour, and opposition to all un-biblical and uncharitable actions and attitudes in respect of human sexuality from whatever perspective, including bigotry, hurtful words or actions, and demeaning or damaging language; a willingness to increase our awareness of the complex issues regarding human sexuality; and a determination to welcome and to make disciples of all people.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican archbishop to address Catholic Conference on the Eucharist: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2012 p 7. May 14, 2012

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Dr. Michael Jackson

Communion need not only be expressed in the sacraments, the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin told Vatican Radio last week, but can be found in a communion of charity, action and relationship.

Dr. Michael Jackson’s remarks on the future of ecumenical relations come as the Roman Catholic Church prepares to hold its 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next month.  The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin has asked Dr. Jackson to lead worship on 11 June 2012 on the first day of the conference which will explore the theme, Communion in One Baptism.

Dr. Jackson told Vatican Radio there was a “genuine sense of excitement and expectation right across the Christian traditions in Ireland” over the inclusion of non-Catholics in the 50th global gathering of the Catholic Church on the Eucharist.   “This I think is a tremendous invitation to all of us who carry the Cross of Christ to make a contribution together to try to formulate and shape a fresh direction for our society”.

The Anglican archbishop said that he believed that “communion as understood more widely is at the very heart of this Congress. So Baptism as something which is recognised, respected and practised across the traditions in a very specific way is a wonderful way into the exploration of communion as shared life”

A new look at the sacraments will bring Ireland’s churches closer together, he said.  “I think two things in particular will probably happen: there is an element of what I call internal instruction which is actually facilitating people who are faithful in the Catholic tradition to see communion as something beyond Eucharist, something within it and something beyond it, and to enable the rest of us to see it in the same light”.

He added that it was “important for us all to see beyond what to many people is an ecumenical logjam which is the fact that we do not together celebrate and share the Eucharist. I think what the Eucharistic Congress is encouraging us to do its to take the fullness of the Eucharist in the tradition of each of us, and actually to take that sense of belonging to Christ and share in that spirit more widely”.

Dr. Jackson noted that “many people are saddened and frustrated at the fact that it is not possible to officially share the Eucharist together. I can understand that pain… but I think that we need to work with a mixture of holy patience and holy impatience, and if this is the situation where institutionally the Churches are then we need to dig deeper and look for ways in which we can express that communion. There is of course a communion of the sacraments. But there is also a communion of charity, a communion of belonging to one another, there is a communion of faith and a communion of action”.

A “divided Christian witness convinces nobody,” Dr. Jackson concluded.  “It doesn’t convince anyone in the Churches and it certainly doesn’t convince those who look quizzically at the Churches. We need to build in simplicity. Our smaller scale in Ireland means that we need to know one another.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 39, May 11, 2012 May 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of Ireland, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Kevin and George are at it again. This week they tackle the tough topic of people in purple, The Anglican Mission in America, Same Sex Marriage, and communication in in the church. Peter has breaking news from Ireland and AS Haley brings legal news from Orange Beach California. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com and twitter #au39

Irish parliament rejects abortion bill: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2012 p 7. May 6, 2012

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Clare Daley TD

The lower house of the Irish Parliament has rejected a private member’s bill to ease the Republic’s abortion laws.  In a vote of 109 to 20, the Dáil rejected the bill brought by Clare Daly of the opposition Socialist Party that would permit “termination of pregnancy where a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman exists.”

Ms Daly had urged the Dáil to bring Ireland in line with a 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruled that held the country’s failure to implement the existing constitutional “right” to abortion was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.  In 1992 the Irish courts legalized abortion in limited circumstances in the “X” case.  However, successive governments have declined to enact legislation codifying the country’s abortion laws.

“We believe that it is only a first step for abortion to be legalized in Ireland in all circumstances. We have waited long enough,” Ms. Daly said before the vote.

“Over 100,000 Irish abortions have taken place in Britain for many different reasons, none of them easy, all of them valid. The hypocrisy, injustice and expense of having to travel to England for terminations, away from family and friends, is a disgrace,” she said.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly rejected the Bill on the grounds that the House should await the report of an expert group commissioned by the government in response to the ECHR ruling.

A spokesman for the Church of Ireland told The Church of England Newspaper noted that as this was a private members bill, there had been no government consultation and no opportunity for the church to address the legislation.

However, the Church of Ireland had made submissions on abortion to the Oireachtas Éireann, the upper and lower houses of Parliament, in 2011, the spokesman said.

“The Lambeth Declaration on Abortion remains the Church of Ireland’s officially stated and essential position: ‘In the strongest terms, Christians reject the practice of induced abortion, or infanticide, which involves the killing of a life already conceived (as well as the violation of the personality of the mother) save at the dictate of strict and undeniable medical necessity’,” the spokesman said.

He added that “within the Church there is probably a diversity of opinions on certain aspects of the abortion issue – areas of disagreement in exceptions of lethal or severe congenital abnormality of the foetus; pregnancy after incest; pregnancy after rape.”

However, “it has been the Church of Ireland view that the constitutional way is not the best method of dealing with the abortion issue,” the spokesman from the Church of Ireland Press Office said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 38, May 5, 2012 May 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of Ireland, Texas, The Episcopal Church.
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The Anglican Four have more news for you. Kevin and George bring you Today-in-History, More of The AMiA breakdown, Erastian Texans, picking Canterbury, and the weather for Ireland is spring. Peter breaks down behind-the-scenes GAFCON and AS Haley has breaking news from Christ Church, Savannah. Oh… and there is a surprise Guest this week.

Saint’s heart stolen from Dublin cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

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The Irish police have requested the assistance of the public to help them solve the theft of a relic of the patron saint of Dublin, St. Laurence O’Toole, stolen from St Laud’s Chapel in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Sometime during early hours of 3 March 2012, a thief removed a wooden heart-shaped reliquary containing the mummified heart of the 12th century archbishop from an iron cage in a chapel in the cathedral.

The relic has been kept at the cathedral for over 800 years, Dean Dermot Dunne told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme. The relic “has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father, St Laurence O’Toole.”

Police are reviewing CCTV film from the night of the theft. However, Dean Dunne noted there were a number of odd incidents surrounding the theft. Gold and silver altar vessels located in the same chapel as the relic were not taken by the thief while a number of prayer candles had been lit during the night.

“In our Trinity chapel, our prayer chapel on the north transept, all the candles were lit there. It’s quite confusing,” the dean said.

Born Lorcan Ua Tuathail in Castledermot, Co. Kildare, in 1128, Laurence O’Toole became Archbishop of Dublin and was revered as an ascetic who wore a hair shirt, abastained from meat and fasted every Friday. He died in 1180 and was canonised in 1225 by Pope Honorius III.

St. Laurence O’Toole’s heart has been preserved in Christ Church Cathedral since the 13th Century and has been a major pilgrimage site since the medieval period. His bones were interred at the Parish Church of Chorley, but they disappeared during the Reformation.

The Gardaí have appealed to anyone with information to contact them to help with their inquiries.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church of Ireland debates sex and Christian belief: The Church of England Newspaper, March 15, 2012 March 15, 2012

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The Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh. Photo: Church of Ireland Press Office

The Church of Ireland has reaffirmed its belief in traditional marriage.  In a statement released at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Ballyconnell, the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin stated the “church’s position on marriage as being the union of one man and one woman remains constant”.

Approximately 450 members of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod met from 9-10 March 2012 at the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan at a special meeting of synod called to discuss human sexuality “in the context of Christian belief”.

The meeting had been organized by the Irish House of Bishops in response to the controversy surrounding the revelation that the Dean of Leighlin in July 2011 registered a same-sex civil union with his partner, with the tacit approval of his bishop.

The special two day meeting was not designed to achieve a resolution to the disputes over human sexuality, organizers of the conference told The Church of England Newspaper, but to further debate.  The gathering was also closed to the press in order to facilitate the free flow of discussion.

The conference opened with address from Dr. Alan Harper, the Archbishop of Armagh and Dr. Michael Jackson, the Archbishop of Dublin and was followed by round table discussion of the scripture and human sexuality led by Bishop Richard Clarke of Meath and Kildare.  After a break for dinner the conference reassembled to hear “storytellers” offer “their personal experiences from gay perspectives.”

A series of seminars were offered on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  The Rev Doug Baker, a consultant to the Church of Ireland’s Hard Gospel Committee and instructor at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, spoke on the topic of handling conflicts within the church, while Mrs. Ethne Harkness and Judge Catherine McGuinness gave an overview of the state of legislation in Northern Ireland and the Republic on civil partnerships and the proposals being put forward by the coalition government on gay marriage.

Two ecumenical participants, Bishop Jana Jeruma-Gringberga of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain and Dr Andrew Goddard of the Church of England led a seminar on the science and psychology of same-sex attraction and gender determination, while Dr. William Olhausen, rector of Killiney Parish, Ballybrack, and Dr Stephen White, Dean of Killaloe in Co Clare spoke to the theological issues at play.

Dr. Bryan Follis, rector of All Saints’ Church, Belfast and the Rev Brian O’Rourke, rector of St Anne’s Church, Shandon in Cork offered differing views on the pastoral care of gay people in congregations.  Dr Follis affirmed the church’s traditional teaching on the morality of homosexual behavior, but discussed ways of providing pastoral support to those with a homosexual orientation that reflected the love of Christ while being faithful to his word.  Mr. O’Rourke, rector of parish self-described “inclusive church” argued the church should provide the same level of support to gay people that it did to all others, including offering them the opportunity to marry.

Two sets of parents spoke of their experiences with gay children, while the chairperson of Changing Attitude Ireland, Canon Virginia Kennerley and the chaplain at Queen’s University Belfast, the Rev. Barry Forde, spoke on the question whether it was possible to agree to disagree.

On the second day, the Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller led a study for the conference on the Gospel texts surrounding human sexuality (Matt 5:17-48; Matt 19:3-12; Matt 25:31-46; John 4:1-54), while the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh, the Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke, discussed Rom 1:8-32 and 1 Cor 1:1-20.

In their statement the archbishops affirmed the conference had seen “substantial conversation reflecting strongly held convictions characterised by clarity of expression without judgmentalism.”

It had been held in a climate of “respectful dialogue” and it was “clear that there is a breadth of opinion in the Church of Ireland on these matters but also a strong sense of the cohesiveness of the church.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ulster bishop to lead SAMS-Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, February 16, 2012 February 23, 2012

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Bishop Ken Clarke

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A leading Evangelical bishop of the Church of Ireland will leave office to serve as president of a mission society. On 10 February 2012 the Church of Ireland Press Office announced that the Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh had been appointed Mission Director of SAMS-Ireland (South American Mission Society.)

Elected in 2000 as bishop of the Northwestern Irish diocese that straddles the border between Ulster and the Republic, Bishop Clarke will take up his new post following the appointment of a successor later this year.  The bishop has been involved with the work of SAMS Ireland for over 40 years.  The bishop and his wife served as SAMS missionaries in Chile from 1979 to 1981 and has been the society’s chairman since 1993.

Following the announcement of his appointment, Bishop Clarke said he had been “immensely privileged to serve in this Diocese. I have found many wonderful people who love their Church. We have a great team of clergy, Diocesan staff and hard-working volunteers. With my wife Helen, I have experienced love and loyalty in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.”

The bishop explained his decision to devote himself to the mission field as a calling from God.  “I am keen to develop and deepen links with Anglicans in South America and in other parts of the Anglican Communion. The development of leaders and the facilitation of missional opportunities will be amongst my priorities.”

Bishop Clarke added that as the theme this year of the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh was mission, he was “looking forward to helping in many of the planned initiatives. For that reason I will not be leaving the Diocese until later this year in the Autumn.”

 

Derry bombings draw condemnation from across N.I.: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 7 February 2, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt. Rev. Ken Good has denounced last week’s bombings in Londonderry, but has warned the terrorists their campaign of violence and intimidation will not derail the peace process.

On 19 January 2012 bombs were detonated in the centre of Londonderry at the visitor and convention bureau and at the city’s DHSS office following a warning telephone call.  No one was injured in the blasts, though the area was evacuated by the police after the blasts.

The PSNI believes that a dissident republican faction opposed to the peace process is to blame for the attacks, and suspect either the Real IRA – responsible for the 1998 Omagh bombing that killed 29 – or a second group the Oglaigh na hEireann.

Speaking in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 23 January, the DUP’s MLA Gregory Campbell said that while “we are in the third year” of their bombing campaign, their efforts are doomed “to fail” as “90 per cent of the community oppose what they are doing.”

Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney called upon MLAs to send a united message to dissident republicans to cease their attacks.  Their actions “stood in stark contrast” to the views of the community who condemned the attacks, while the UUP’s Danny Kinahan who appealed to the community to see “the dissidents have no room to move and that they will never win”.

Following the attack Bishop Good released a statement saying “we are proud of this city. Our resolve to create a new future as a united community is undiminished by acts such as this”.

The attack had been made upon “all of the people of this city who are committed to a hopeful and bright future. The shared future we are working for is one that has left behind destructive violence and makes progress through democratic processes. I believe this city has a bright future because we are as one in our determination to work constructively together.”

The people of Londonderry “will not to be deflected by these negative and destructive attacks,” Bishop Good said.

Irish archbishops intercede in Maghaberry Prison strike: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 5. January 17, 2012

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Archbishops Harper and Brady

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Armagh took part in a secret visit with striking prisoners at Northern Ireland’s Maghaberry Prison shortly before Christmas, the Irish press has reported.

On 22 December 2011 Dr. Alan Harper, the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh, met with loyalist prisoners while Cardinal Sean Brady, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Archbishop met with republican prisoners.  The two then met together with representatives of the groups to hear their complaints over prison conditions.

Thirty republican inmates at the high security prison near Lisburne have caused more than £1m worth of damage to the prison over the past two years in protest to the introduction of body scanners to search prisoners coming and going from the Roe House special unit at the prison.

The prisoners claim the body scanners have violated an agreement reached in August 2010 to end full body searches.  They have also complained that the new regime has seen increased surveillance of inmates with additional strip-searches and cell checks.

Fires have been set by the protesting prisoners while some have smeared their cell walls with excrement in protest to the conditions of their confinement.

A Prison Service of Northern Ireland spokesman confirmed the archbishops had met with the prisoners but offered no details of the meetings.  A spokesman for the Church of Ireland told the Belfast Telegraph declined to elaborate on the visit.

The Church of England Newspaper was told by one cleric with knowledge of the visit that the archbishops sought to provide pastoral support to the prisoners – as well as help a second Maze prison problem, where political concessions to striking prisoners led to a breach of security and political turmoil in Northern Ireland.

The situation has taken on political overtones outside the prison walls with alleged republican supporters vandalizing the party political offices of Justice Minister David Ford.  Dog excrement was smeared on the windows and door of the Alliance Party headquarters in Belfast.

Debate doctrine, not sex say Irish evangelicals: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2011 p 7. December 9, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Evangelical leaders in the Church of Ireland have questioned the parameters of the church’s forthcoming debate on human sexuality, warning that beginning the debate on this point might provide a political solution to a theological problem.

In a 29 Nov 2011 letter written under the signature of the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine Ireland and Reform Ireland, Irish evangelicals took the bishops to task for their passive approach to the divisions that appear set to tear the church apart.

The bishops’ response to one of their colleague’s approval of the same-sex civil partnership ceremony contracted by a senior clergyman “could convey the impression that the bishops are simply responding to issues that are not, in part, of their own making.”

In July the Dean of Leighlin registered a same-sex civil union with his partner, apparently with the tacit approval of the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory.  When news of the event broke, it caused an outcry in the Irish Church and on 5 October 2011 the bishops released a pastoral letter calling for a moratorium on clergy entering into same-sex civil partnerships.  They also asked critics of gay civil unions to moderate their language too while the Church begins debate.

The bishops said they had been planning on reviewing their 2003 statement on human sexuality, however, “recent well–publicised events within the Church of Ireland concerning the issue of serving clergy and civil partnerships have caused considerable hurt and confusion to many. Others saw what had happened as a positive development. In the Church of Ireland as a whole, in consequence, this has led to a painful experience of disunity.”

The bishops stated they would organise “a major conference in spring 2012” to discuss the issue, but noted the meeting “is not envisaged to be an end in itself” and would not settle the issue.

However, the bishops must realize that their indecision played a key part in “allowing the debate to unravel as it has,” the Irish evangelicals said.

“There has been a failure to engage in any process following the 2003 statement,” the evangelicals said, and this coupled with the “perception” that the gay union was contracted with the “foreknowledge and/or approval of a serving bishop” created an environment “not conducive to facilitating constructive dialogue.”

“We would seek a greater acknowledgment by the bishops of their own role in not building upon the letter of 2003 and, either individually or collegially, overseeing the present situation that has caused considerable hurt and confusion to many,” the said.

While they endorsed the call for debate, they stated that beginning the conversation with a discussion on human sexuality was the proper course.  “The defining issue is our vision of God, and what it means for His people to represent Him in His mission of love to redeem His world. If we start with the ethics of human sexuality the danger is that we will end up with rather legalistic and regulated forms of wording as to what is or is not acceptable, with potentially some very hurtful and divisive dialogue along the way.”

But if the debate began with a discussion of “our vision of God we might just end up with a renewed confidence in what it means to be a redeemed and transformed people,” the evangelical leaders said.

Irish clergy petition on gay unions: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2011. November 4, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy (EFIC) has launched an online petition campaign calling upon the leaders of the Church of Ireland to “uphold and submit to the authority of the Scriptures” and not follow the Episcopal Church down the path of schism over homosexuality.

The Church of Ireland could split between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland, church leaders fear, in the wake of revelations the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory permitted the Dean of Leighlin to register a same-sex civil union.

The outcry forced Bishop Michael Burrows to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam and has sparked protests from evangelical clergy. The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Alan Harper, told the BBC he was “very, very concerned at the potential for division” within the church over homosexuality.

On 5 October 2011 the Irish bishops called for a moratorium on clergy entering into same-sex civil partnerships, and also asked critics of clergy civil unions to moderate their language while the Church begins debate over this issue.

In their pastoral letter, the bishops said they had been planning on reviewing their 2003 statement on human sexuality, however, “recent well–publicised events within the Church of Ireland concerning the issue of serving clergy and civil partnerships have caused considerable hurt and confusion to many. Others saw what had happened as a positive development. In the Church of Ireland as a whole, in consequence, this has led to a painful experience of disunity.”

The bishops stated they would organise “a major conference in spring 2012” to discuss the issue, but noted the meeting “is not envisaged to be an end in itself” and would not settle the issue.

Evangelical clergy in Ireland have urged their bishops to take a firm stance. The Rev Trevor Johnston, chairman of EFIC, told the Portadown Times “this issue was discussed widely [at EFIC’s 10 October 2011 meeting] and clergy from all over Ireland are opposed.

“The Bible is unequivocal throughout, and the meeting took place in a very serious mood. There was a groundswell of distress by people who do not want to see their Church divided over this issue, but it will be very difficult to hold the Church of Ireland together,” Mr Johnston said.

The petitioners stated they signed the statement to “disassociate ourselves from any implied or perceived acceptance of sexual relations outside of marriage and to reassure parishioners that Church of Ireland teaching has not been changed by this precipitous action.

“We call upon all in church leadership to undertake to ensure their lifestyles and teaching are in accordance with the historic [catholic] and faithful interpretation of the Holy Scriptures,” the said, asking that “all in church leadership uphold and submit to the authority of the Scriptures. We particularly call upon bishops to fulfil their calling and office by taking appropriate action to restore the witness and unity of the church, in the truth and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Gay civil unions had the potential to divide the Irish Church, they said, writing that “as we observe the response to the acceptance of same-sex relationships across the Anglican Communion, it is with deep regret that we are compelled to acknowledge the realities of broken or impaired communion worldwide, and the possibility of the same even within our own land.”

Mr Johnston acknowledged the church faced turbulent times as “this crisis will be very hard to resolve.”

Anglican Unscripted: October 17, 2011 October 18, 2011

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http://blip.tv/play/g5IjgtjoSgI.htmlhttp://a.blip.tv/api.swf#g5IjgtjoSgI
Kevin and George both seem to be qualified to perform the Sacrament of the Eucharist under new rules readopted by the diocese of Sydney. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Canterbury had a very successful visit to Zimbabwe and our hosts tip their hats to the new and improved head of the communion. Almost predictably, Allan Haley builds a defense for the Diocese of South Carolina while stacking the deck against the most arrogant Presiding Bishop to serve in North America. Kevin also interviews Bishop Abraham Neal (formally one of the Lost Boys) of the Province of Sudan.

Irish ban on clergy civil unions: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 6. October 18, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper

The Bishops of the Church of Ireland have called for a moratorium on clergy entering into same-sex civil partnerships.

In their 5 October pastoral letter to the Irish Church, the bishops also asked critics of clergy civil unions to moderate their language while they debate the issue. “We urge people of all shades of opinion within the Church of Ireland to refrain from any actions or the use of emotive or careless language which may further exacerbate the situation within the Church. Such restraint will greatly facilitate the work ahead,” the bishops said.

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

The outcry forced Bishop Burrows to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam and has sparked protests. A statement issued by the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine (Ireland) and Reform Ireland said: “If the orthodox view of marriage and sexuality is allowed to be shattered by the actions of Dean Gordon and others then it is difficult to see how a respectful fellowship can be maintained.”

Changing Attitude Ireland criticized the conservatives’ statement, noting their statements “have not been a consequence of a Church of Ireland clergyman living in a same-sex partnership per se, but of a Church of Ireland clergyman choosing to formalise that partnership in law.

“The attitude of the four conservative evangelical and charismatic groups seems, therefore, to be that it is alright to be in a same-sex relationship as long as one is not public about it,” the liberal advocacy group said.

In their pastoral letter, the bishops said that while they had been planning on reviewing their 2003 statement on human sexuality, however, recent events had “given added impetus to the bishops’ process of reflection.”

“Recent well–publicised events within the Church of Ireland concerning the issue of serving clergy and civil partnerships have caused considerable hurt and confusion to many. Others saw what had happened as a positive development. In the Church of Ireland as a whole, in consequence, this has led to a painful experience of disunity. We as bishops take very seriously our responsibility at this time to act in a way that will help to further the unity of the church in truth and love,” they said.

To this end, “we plan to organise a major conference in spring 2012, to which members of the General Synod and some others will be invited. The purpose of the conference is to discuss the content of this Pastoral Letter, to assist the church in becoming more fully informed, and to explore wider issues related to human sexuality.”

The conference will not settle the issue, they noted, and “is not envisaged to be an end in itself. Study in biblical, theological and legal issues, both before and after the conference, needs to be encouraged and undertaken.”

Anglican Unscripted: Sept 25 2011 September 27, 2011

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Today is history is still happening and Kevin and George explain the Déjà vu that surrounds the first and (maybe) last Lambeth conference.  Sound confusing — then click to play.

Also in this episode your hosts discuss the Global Souths momentous challenges on the other side of the Great Wall, and Canterbury Contributor Peter Ould brings us news on the new woes in the Church of Ireland.  Finally AS Haley has help for those of you who can’t sleep at night because you are uncertain if TEC will ever change?

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

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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.

Schism looms for the Church of Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 16, 2011 p 6. September 16, 2011

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Bishop Michael Burrows

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Schism within the Church of Ireland could split the church between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland, church leaders fear, in the wake of revelations the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory permitted the Dean of Leithlin 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.  He also conceded that clergy criticisms over a leadership “vacuum” among the bishops were “a fair comment in all sorts of ways.”

His remarks follow revelations published last week in the Belfast News Letter that the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Rev. Tom Gordon, had solemnized a civil union with his partner in July.  Dean Gordon told the “Sunday Sequence” on Sept 2, he had notified Bishop Michael Burrows the ceremony would take place beforehand, and added that his “sexuality” was common knowledge in the Church of Ireland.

Dr. Harper said that while a change to church discipline had taken place in the Diocese of Cashel and Ossory, there had been no change in the Church of Ireland’s formal position on human sexuality, which teaches faithfulness in marriage and chastity in singleness.

In 2003 the bishops agreed to maintain the church’s historic teachings, whilst maintaining collegiality that respected the diversity of views of its members.  Since that time, Britain and Ireland had introduced legislation permitting same-sex civil unions, and the General Synod endorsed the Anglican Covenant.  The composition of the House of Bishops had also changed, he noted, necessitating further discussion.

“What we do not have is a broad consensus for change. There is a 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,” he said.

The Archbishop declined to take a stand on the issue.  His role as primate, he averred was to mediate the bishops’ forthcoming debate over human sexuality, and not pre-empt discussion by taking sides.

By acquiescing to the Very Rev. Tom Gordon’s civil partnership, Bishop Burrows had pre-empted debate, conservatives charged.  The host of “Sunday Sequence”, Michael Crawley said the Archdeacon of Down, the Ven. Philip Paterson, had told him Bishop Burrows should resign.

The Anglican Chaplain to Queens University Belfast, the Rev. Barry Forde, told the BBC he was disappointed how quickly some had stressed the North/South divide over the issue.  The problems had arisen because individuals, not dioceses, had acted outside of the church’s traditional norms.  But he agreed “this is going to be very fractious.”

Canon Ian Poulton told the BBC he shared the concern over the bishop’s silence.  “There has been a dearth of leadership … there is a vacuum of leadership at times. There was no leadership on economic issues. It is not just on sexual issues,” he said.

First clergy same-sex union for Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 7. September 15, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Dean of Leighlin Cathedral in the Diocese of Cashel & Ossory has become the first serving Church of Ireland clergyman to enter a same-sex civil partnership in the Republic of Ireland.

The public announcement of the Dean’s same-sex civil partnership and his Bishop’s apparent support for the move is likely to pitch the Church of Ireland into the same battle that has torn apart the Episcopal Church and has the potential to divide the Irish church, sources tell CEN.

In an interview with BBC Ulster, the Very Rev Tom Gordon stated he and his partner held the ceremony in a registry office in July. Unlike the Church of England, which requires clergy who have entered same-sex civil partnerships to remain celibate, the Church of Ireland has not taken a position on the matter.

However Dean Gordon said his bishop, the Rt Rev Michael Burrows knew of his domestic arrangements and had been informed before the ceremony that it would take place.

Ireland’s Civil Partnership Act came into effect on 1 January 2011, and the first registered partnership took place on 7 February 2011. The tax code was also amended in July 2011 under the Finance (No. 3) to create parity in taxation mattes between civil partnerships and marriage.

Canon Charles Kenny of Changing Attitude Ireland said Dean Gordon’s civil partnership was “evidence of the growing visibility and acceptance of same-sex couples within the Church of Ireland.”

However, the chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, the Rev Trevor Johnston, said he was perturbed by the pastoral and theological implications of this action — and the apparent acquiescence by the church’s hierarchy.

“I think there is distress that this has happened and great sorrow because it will be difficult to biblically pastor those who genuinely struggle with the issue of same-sex relationships because of a mixed message,” he told the Belfast Newsletter.

Mr Johnston, the director of Crosslinks Ireland, said it was “very, very difficult” to see how this issue would not bring the Church of Ireland to blows. “We want to hear from the bishops of the Church of Ireland on this matter and we call people to hear again and apply the Bible’s teaching on the area of human sexuality, which is that marriage is the only context for sexual expression,” he said.

A statement from the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine (Ireland) and Reform Ireland said: “If the orthodox view of marriage and sexuality is allowed to be shattered by the actions of Dean Gordon and others then it is difficult to see how a respectful fellowship can be maintained.”

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