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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.

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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.

Arctic election for Irish rector: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2012 p 6. June 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Rev. Darren McCartney. Photo: Church of Ireland

A former Crosslink’s missionary and British Army chaplain has been elected Suffragan Bishop of the Arctic.  The Rev. Darren McCartney, rector of Knocknamuckley in the Church of Ireland’s Diocese of Down and Dromore will be consecrated on 2 June 2012 at the “igloo cathedral” in Iqaluit on Baffin Island.

A Crosslinks missionary with his wife, Karen, to the Arctic, Mr. McCartney was ordained in the Arctic in 2004 and ministered at St Luke’s Church in Pangnirtung before returning to Ulster in 2006.

The Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller said he was “absolutely thrilled to hear of the election.”

“Darren was ordained in the Arctic and exercised a very effective ministry there before returning to Northern Ireland. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his wife Karen on the occasion of his consecration on Trinity Sunday. We look forward to celebrating with him when he returns. May the rich blessings of God be on Darren’s episcopal ministry,” Bishop Miller said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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

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

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

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

Overseas church leaders respond to the London riots: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 19, 2011 p 7. August 24, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Crime.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders in the UK and overseas have offered their prayers and support to those in the Church of England ministering to the victims of last week’s riots.

The Archbishop of Wales called for calm in Cardiff, pleading for his fellow countrymen not to emulate the violence in England, while the Bishop of Down and Dromore writing from Belfast said Ulster’s history of communal violence gave the Church of Ireland some sense of the turmoil facing England.

In an interview with BBC Wales broadcast on Aug 12, Dr. Barry Morgan said he hoped the start of the sporting season would not see outbursts of rioting in Wales.

“We have a good tradition in Cardiff [that] when there is a rugby match on that there is no violence. I hope that tradition persists because it would be dreadful if what we’ve seen happening in England were to spread to Wales. I hope the television footage of the immense damage that has been caused to human life during these riots will make people think twice about behaving in such a way,” Dr. Morgan said.

The archbishop added that he believed it was important to get at the root causes of last week’s violence. “I don’t want to condone the behaviour of those who have destroyed property or killed people. On the other hand I believe we have to ask deeper questions. What causes young people, and really young people, to behave in such a desperate way, to behave in a way which they think is acceptable,” Dr. Morgan asked.

The rioters were not so much depraved as deprived, he observed. “What causes people to feel so desperate that they can go out and not care about the consequences? There are pockets of our cities that are totally deprived, where our poor feel they have nothing to lose. I think therefore we have to look at that deeper question,” Dr. Morgan told the BBC.

On Aug 10 Dr. Harold Miller, the Bishop of Down and Dromore stated that “coming from a part of the United Kingdom which has experienced many occasions of rioting over the past decades, we in Ulster are still shocked and saddened by the scenes of devastation we have witnessed on television and the internet in English cities over the last days.”

The people of Ulster stood in “solidarity with the victims – people who are in fear of their safety, their lives and their businesses,” he said, adding that he thought it important not to engage in sociological speculation as to the motives of the looters.

“However we interpret these events, we will be praying for great wisdom for the police, for the establishment of a society where all feel that they have worth, and for the stabilising grace of God to be known in the cities which have been affected.”

Church leaders across the developing world have also expressed their concern for those afflicted by the riots. However, after the looting subsided some overseas church leaders reported the misfortunes of England had been a source of pleasure in some quarters.

One bishop shared a joke that is currently in vogue in Pakistan. “Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani to British PM David Cameron:

‘We are very concerned about your nuclear weapons. These may fall into the hands of unruly, mobs running riot unchecked, currently. The world needs to be reassured that your nukes are safe’.”