Comments: Church of Ireland sexuality row rumbles on

"Expeditiously"? We've been here for two thousand years, and - admitting that the Parousia could be upon us at any moment like a thief in the night - we must consider the possibility that we might be in it for the long-haul. Bearing this in mind, I fail to see why the Belfast Newsletter demands such unprecedented alacrity. Indeed, I rather envy the Church of Rome, where addressing an issue "expeditiously" means resolving a problem in decades rather than centuries.

If there is a split, there is a split. Using the threat of schism to provoke rash and hasty actions, however, is tantamount to blackmail. Not that I would ever accuse the worthy Belfast Newsletter (whatever that might be) of such a tactic.

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 12:00pm BST

So Wallace Benn is putting his sticky fingers into Irish affairs too. Hasn't he got enough to do in Chichester Diocese or is he setting himself up for a new role when he retires in August next year?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 12:28pm BST

I found archbishop Harper's views on both civil partnerships and gay marriage offensive.

He seems to not know that an increasing number of same sex couples have an increasing number of children and in my experience are frequently based around extended family groups caring for an elderly parent .....

His views on the extension of civil partnership to support close family groupings from severe distress at a death are more easily handled in tax law.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 12:37pm BST

"So Wallace Benn is putting his sticky fingers into Irish affairs too." - Richard Ashby

I was under the impression that Bishop Benn was in fact Irish? I could be completely off base. That's to say nothing about the stickiness or otherwise of his fingers, merely that (if I'm correct in that understanding) they're no more misplaced in Ireland than anywhere else.

Posted by Geoff at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 5:16pm BST

Cross border invasion is now clearly reached the UK. Not now limited to the African/American continents.

Benn is not even a member of the Celtic Bishops conference.

Like the Roman and Free Church in Scotland , Benn cannot delay in spouting his spurious, outdated, unloving 'theology', if thats what he calls it!!

I agree with Martin and Richard.

Posted by Fr John at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 5:18pm BST

I don't agree with Martin and Richard. I believe Harper to be a person of great integrity. I believe also that he is here trying to tread an extremely difficult line. Within the C of E, there will be lots of ignorant bigots (look at me, I'm one, this is the church I was brought up in). There will be others (what is the proportion? who knows?) who are decent and liberal. The pace has been forced by various factors. Harper is trying to keep his church together, trying simultaneously to do justice to gay people. I salute him. Who was the C of I person who commented so trenchantly on these matters comparatively recently and whose sensible, well-informed comments silenced statements of absolute liberal principle?

Posted by john at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 8:14pm BST

The person I feel for the most in all this is Dean Tom Gordon himself. Why should he be placed on the pedestal while this debate - which should have been resolved years ago - is ongoing? From what I can tell, he acted perfectly in accordance with the rules of the CofI. Why must he and his partner live in the eye of the storm like this? Why don't unhappy evangelicals form a Northern Irish CofI if they do not accept the validity of Dean Tom's ministry?

Posted by Jakian Thomist at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 8:28pm BST

As a liberal Anglican far away but in a country where these matters are also being considered (and one who agrees with civil unions but not "gay marriage") I think the Church of Ireland is blessed with the eirenic leadership of the Archbishop of Armagh illustrated in this courteous and helpful message. We all need to show the same courtesy as, "forbearing one another in love", we endeavour to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". (Ephesians 4.2-3)

Posted by John Bunyan at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 10:49pm BST

I am sorry john but I am not sure what you find in the telling of how I felt hurt by what Harper said - not to agree with.

This is how I felt - honestly!

I believe his speech to his synod went against the very principle laid out in the pastoral letter he was party to only a few days before, it said this:
"We urge people of all shades of opinion within the Church of Ireland to refrain from any actions or the use of emotive or careless language which may further exacerbate the situation within the Church. Such restraint will greatly facilitate the work ahead."

On this occasion not eirenic enough for me John Bunyon.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 11:46pm BST

From an earlier 'News Letter' report on the Meeting, it would seem that Archbishop Harper was against any interference from Bishops outside of Ireland. That gives evidence of his innate integrity on this issue.

However, Bishop Wally Benn's interference is symptomatic of the GAFCON agenda - to further distance as many people as possible in the Communion from the prospect of recognising the human rights of the LGBT community to be part of the Church - and part of the Human Race.

He may be Irish-born, but he is there as a representative of the English Bishops. The sooner this bishop (Benn) retires (to ACNA?), the better for the eirenic Mission of the Anglican Churches!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 12:25am BST

It's a sad day when you demonize people you disagree with.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 6:42am BST

Father Ron wrote, "He may be Irish-born, but he is there as a representative of the English Bishops."

Are you sure, Father Ron? What body of the English bishops appointed and authorised him to attend this meeting and to represent them?

I suspect that +Wallace Lewes was invited by the group who organised the meeting because they wanted to purport to the Irish (and especially Northern Irish) media that their point of view had the support of the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

In all probability +Wallace represented no-one but himself and his own views which are not necessarily those of the English HoB collectively, although certainly there are some of our bishops who would agree with him. His views are certainly not those of many (most?) lay people in the C of E and he cannot claim to speak for us.

Posted by RPNewark at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:18am BST

We Anglicans, Robert, do not as a general rule condemn people - even those we disagree with - to Hell. We leave that to other religonists. Our task is to welcome them - all and sundry - into the hospitality of a loving, redeeming God.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:11am BST

This meeting somehow was heralded on the Church of Ireland rumour-mill as something significant - and instead it's just Wallace Benn, acting entirely on his own initiative, jetting in again. He must have shares in EasyJet.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:41am BST

Now, what David Chillingworth has to say on the thread above in answer to the hysteria from some Scottish quarters - that's eirenic!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 3:24pm BST


I register your hurt, I acknowledge it, I am sorry that I didn't do so before.

I still think Harper is 'straight' (joke). Of course, you (and others) once thought that of Rowan Williams. Were you wrong? On one level, yes, certainly. On another level, it's not so clear. In any case, I do not think that Harper is as subtle and complex as Williams. That's a minus, but also a plus.

One does good by stealth, by compromising a bit, by trying to keep the show on the road, etc.

My heart is with you. I have plenty of gay experience. I am happy now in a heterosexual posture (so to speak).

The good will prevail. Battles will be lost before then, but not the whole war. Believe me. Believe Harper.

Posted by john at Friday, 14 October 2011 at 9:44pm BST

Not quite what I took issue with john.

I was reading his speech to the synod and thought it rather bad and said so here and also to him.

Now that was as a family man trying to bring up his kids and care for the older ones with the support of our Church.

If I wanted to read his speech with other hats on then I might want to talk about his difficult political position - how he has to seem to his conservative constituents etc etc

But as a family man his speech ignored our existence and (once again) made my life more risky and threatened the security that underpins my children's survival ..... its a little more visceral than you might guess, john.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 16 October 2011 at 12:46am BST
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