Friday, 7 October 2011

Church of Ireland press reports on sexuality conference plan

The Irish Times in Dublin reports: C of I planning conference on sexuality for early 2012

A MAJOR conference on sexuality is being planned by the Church of Ireland for next spring and a pastoral letter will be issued by its archbishops and bishops in the next few days. The move follows a three-day meeting of the church’s House of Bishops this week.

It was precipitated by disclosure early last month that the Dean of Leighlin (Carlow) Rev Tom Gordon and his same-sex partner of 20 years had been married in a civil ceremony at a registry office last July. Formerly a lecturer at the Church of Ireland theological institute in Dublin and a co-ordinator of religious programmes at RTÉ, he was installed as Dean of Leighlin last year…

The Belfast News Letter reports: Archbishop had notice of cleric’s gay union plan

…Asked whether when he was first told of the same-sex union he realised that it would be a very difficult issue for the Church, the archbishop says: “Of course, of course.”

He adds: “There was nothing more that I could do. The civil partnership legislation is a freedom that he has and, technically, it’s not just not my diocese, it’s also not my province, it’s in the province of Dublin.

“But obviously then the urgent matter was to try and get an opportunity to begin to grapple with the issues as they have now presented themselves and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

So has he been surprised by the vocal opposition from evangelical and traditional Anglicans, many of them in Northern Ireland?

“I’m not surprised that it’s vocal,” he says. “I think probably the extent to which it has been sustained is interesting but this is a free country; this is a church which believes in people having the right to express themselves freely and I’ll defend that right if it is necessary to defend it.”

Asked whether the Church has a position on whether same-sex activity is sinful or normal, the archbishop says: “Sinful and normal are not alternatives. And so obviously, as you perfectly well know, there are different views within the Church as to whether or not a committed same-sex relationship is sinful.

“There has been a traditional view which has in effect not accepted the appropriateness of sexual relations between same-gender people. That is the traditional view.

“That view had come under question and that is where we find ourselves now and that’s why there’s a debate across the communion and that’s why we’ve got the present situation as it affects the Church of Ireland.

“The Church itself hasn’t thoroughly debated these new developments and the implications of these new developments. “That’s why it is necessary, it seems to me and to my fellow bishops, to put in train a way for the Church to address those matters.”

And earlier Church summit to address gay tensions

…last night the News Letter learned that disillusioned conservative and evangelical members of the Church of Ireland are planning their own meeting next week.

The meeting, to be held in Northern Ireland on Monday, is to be addressed by a visiting bishop from outside Ireland, as some parishes become increasingly unhappy at the Irish bishops’ leadership…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 7 October 2011 at 10:51am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of Ireland

I might have missed something but I haven't seen any reference to the four day long "Celtic Bishops" meeting that took place immediately after Harpers letter appealing for calm, and almost immediately before their own meeting.

I mention this because in my view the policy of Wales, Scotland and Ireland was jointly developed.

The "we respect the integrity of all positions" this characterised was always vulnerable and the catalyst for the breakdown has caught many of us by surprise. Wales, Scotland and England have many civilly partnered clerics and perhaps we all thought the matter would just pass unnoticed when they happened in the Republic - Not so!

I am sure that some of the recent meeting in Pitlochry must have reviewed this joint approach. There must also have been some conversations on the announcement from David Cameron that gay marriage will be reality by 2015 - as he put it recently "Not despite my being a Conservative - but because I am a Conservative"

This will seriously affect the ability of the bishops to duck the issue or defend their position on the basis that Civil Partnerships are not marriage - so perhaps the Irish Conference will just be the starting point for a new Celtic approach or signifies a breakdown in the unified strategy.

Just before the meeting in Scotland I was contacted by two bishops to see if we would "get married" in the event ....... I didn't reply then but have written recently that we would, and hoped that by then this event would be welcomed by Welsh Bishops saying "I'm not supporting your marriage despite being a Christian - but because I'm a Christian"!!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 9:57pm BST

Like Martin, I think this is not good news, even though I have no doubt of Harper's personal integrity. Silent fudge will no longer be an option and they surely can't come out with a liberal position (much as some of them might want to).

Posted by: John on Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 11:17pm BST

John, stranger things have happened. Sometimes the Holy spirit, when conscientiously invoked, can create an entirely new order. Look at Vatican II.

Yes, I know, That didn't work either!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 10 October 2011 at 11:07am BST
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