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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After being withdrawn from consideration Motion 8, which affirmed the church’s traditional moral teachings and implicitly rejected gay marriage and non-celibate gay clergy, was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.