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

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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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.

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

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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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.

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

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