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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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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 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.

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

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage.
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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.

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