Thinking Anglicans

Church of Ireland responds to Irish referendum result

Updated 25 May and again 29 May

The Church of Ireland has issued the following press release:

A Statement from the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland Following the Result of the Marriage Referendum (RoI)

The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.

The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.

The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.

We would now sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both from those for whom the result of the referendum represents triumph, and from those for whom it signifies disaster.

Update
Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin has published an interview:
Press Releases / The referendum result is now out. What is your response? Interview with the Archbishop of Dublin on Whit Sunday

Do read the full text of this.

Update Friday
The Church Times carries a comprehensive news report on this, by Gregg Ryan Overwhelming yes vote brings same-sex marriage to Ireland.

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David Gillett
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David Gillett

At least two of their bishops profoundly disagree with this statement !

Paul Barlow
Guest

I read this last night, my heart wasn’t warmed. The use of the word ‘disaster’ seems particularly unfortunate. And whilst the rest of the statement is true, it does feel like a circling of the wagons and a denial of the reality in this jurisdiction.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Killjoys. Jesus spoke of his disciples, that they “do not fast… as long as the bridegroom is with them.” [Matt 9:14-15] Ireland is about to get MANY new pairs of bridegrooms, and pairs of brides: it would be nice if the bishops of the CofI adopted (and emanated) the JOY Jesus expects of his disciples. I commend Hymn 463 (Hymnal 1982) to the bishops for their reflection. Words by WH Auden (who, had he and partner Chester Kallman lived in our time…) “He is the Way. Follow him through the Land of Unlikeness; you will see rare beasts and have… Read more »

robertellis
Guest
robertellis

The Church of Ireland obviously needs some good PR advice….what an awful statement. Do they not have a Bishops’ Press Officer or Communications Officer to help them?

ExRevd
Guest
ExRevd

This statement could go in the dictionary as antonym of “reality check”

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman”

No REAL change, then, for the Church if Ireland!

LGBTI Christians will remain second-class citizens in the Church – if they have been legally wedded.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Whatever. But you’d think that even bishops would get tired of talking to themselves after a while.

Fr William
Guest

The use of the word disaster is surely way OTT. Anyway, who cares what two old members of a minority sect think? Contrast this with the RC Archbishop of Dublin saying that the church needs a reality check. Meanwhile, here in blighty, hypocrisy continues to rule.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Check out the reporting from an earlier article from The Guardian, re the comments prior to the vote by Bishop Storey to her clergy.

“In the last week of campaigning, Pat Storey, the first female Anglican bishop in Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales, has written to all her clergy in Meath and Kildare, explaining her reasons for voting no.”

Full article in The Guardian available via this link: reported comments regarding the church are about half way down the piece.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/irish-voters-set-to-make-history-in-gay-marriage-referendum

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

The ‘Church of Ireland’ bishops’ statement -so -called -I do not believe they all wrote, and in-putted to it and agree it, in the few available hours — but the statement was as unimaginative and ungenerous as I have come to expect. Even the RC archbishop managed to sound a little more relevant, even though, he still doesnt get it. He thinks the RCC needs to learn to speak to young people better! No archbishop, you must learn to listen and learn ! Having an Irish parent and links, I feel very proud of Ireland for how they dealt with… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

The CofI’s use of “disaster” is unfortunate, but let’s face it, many who voted “no” feel that it is precisely that — a moral disaster. But, the overall statement is simply an affirmation of what any good campaigner for the “yes” vote would have stressed: Civil same-sex marriage is now legal in the Republic of Ireland, but every single religious denomination is free to decide for itself whether to grant religious marriage rites. Years ago, in a leadership conference, we participants were asked, when hearing each other’s views to “assume positive intent”. Therefore, I will take at face value, the… Read more »

David Oxley
Guest
David Oxley

Laurence, I take exception to one part of your comment: “all those voters were RCs” – no, some were Anglicans also thinking for themselves. Yes the statement was disappointing, and as to actual author, do I detect the pen of the Archbishop of Dublin?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Lawrence Roberts, ” …all those voters were Roman Catholics thinking for themselves.” Totally agree. News media here are carrying a picture of Roman Catholic nuns heading off to vote. The photo is intended to highlight the church on the ‘no’ side; but five will get you ten some of the Roman Catholic religious voted ‘yes’. A good number of the good sisters tend to be way out in front on these kinds of issues. All will be well, indeed.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

That was indeed careless of me, David, especially as in the context of my comment, ‘all’ could nt possibly have been literally true !

Perhaps the back story of my comment , is that the RCC has done more harm to the people of Ireland than any other denomination.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

It seems that even the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, understands the situation of the young people of the Church better than the Church of Ireland Bishops. Here is an excerpt from the speech made by the Archbishop after the referendum (published on line by ‘Living Church) :

“The church’s teaching, if it isn’t expressed in terms of love — then it’s got it wrong.”

Here is the touch of honesty that needs to be heard more often among the Church’s hierarchy.

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Judging by the referendum votes, I suspect that a significant number of church members in the pews hold a very different view to their leadership. It’s like when a spokesman for ‘The Church of England’ says ‘The Church of England is opposed to same sex marriage’ when in truth the church is divided down the middle on this issue. Anyway, society is moving on, with more generosity and more inclusivity, and these church leaders must feel more and more beleaguered in their dogma, and yet the world does not come crashing down, and people simply get on and love one… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

David Oxley is right to detect Archbishop Michael Jackson’s voice dominating the C of I Bishops’ statement. For one thing, Richard Clarke (Archbishop of Armagh) would not use the word ‘disaster’ in relation to equal marriage. But I’m perplexed. Yes, the conservative evangelical Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Patricia Storey (not elected, by the way, but imposed on us by the House of Bishops) was a ‘No’ voter; but what about Michael Burrows (Cashel and Ossory), Paul Coulton (Cork, Cloyne and Ross) and Ken Kearon (Limerick and Kilaloe)? Did they put their signatures to this statement – or was it… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

The use of “disaster” has been criticized in the CofI statement, and not unreasonably so – as the last word people will give it more attention than was perhaps expected by the author(s). As has been asked, where was the Communications Officer?

On the other hand, it’s a nice little literary reference – think Kipling’s “If”, where triumph and disaster are paired as “two impostors.” A rare case of bishops being too educated for their own good?

Clive Sweeting
Guest
Clive Sweeting

Neither a communicant member of the Anglican Church nor a citizen of the Irish Republic (both of which institutions I respect) I find the C of I bishops’ statement short and to the point of honesty.

Rod gillis
Guest
Rod gillis

Re Michael Mulhern, thanks for the reminder that Bishop Pat Storey was not elected. I just finished re-reading the September 20, 2013 article about her appointment that was posted on Thinking Anglicans at the time. Fascinating! A review of the facts reinforces the notion that the church hierarchy are largely out of touch with the general population, and probably a majority of church goers as well. Reality check please!

John
Guest
John

Illuminating comments both from Michael Mulhern and Bernard Randall. Thank you both.

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

Yesterday, the intelligent and insightful Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, preached on the seven gifts of the Spirit. He did not refer specifically to the equal marriage referendum in Ireland; but some of his closing words (which clearly allude to other concerns on this blog) might provide a more considered Anglican response to the Irish referendum, and resonate more perceptively with Archbishop Dairmuid Martin’s honest reaction: “I see a church today that is at risk of panicking as it watches itself diminish in numbers and influence, as it wonders whether even Christian faith itself could be at risk of eclipse… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

The fact is that the Church of Ireland is a conservative denomination… and 85 per cent of its membership is concentrated in northern Ireland where evangelicalism and protestantism is strong. The Southern dioceses with about 35,000 active Anglicans are disproportionately represented in the General Synod.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

I have no ¨fear of the Lord¨ … I would like to think I engage in ¨wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety..¨ It takes lots of fortitude for GLBTI Anglicans to keep ¨stomaching¨ the kind of marginalizing, outcasting and general ignorance that leads to being ¨seperate¨ sisters and brothers at Church. One wonders how much longer humanity will apply wisdom and understanding for such deadly nonsense spewn forth with fear and hate from pulpits and beyond. Viva Ireland, Viva Equality and inclusivity at ALL levels of Churchlife. Leonard Clark/Leonardo Ricardo

Ian Poulton
Guest
Ian Poulton

Robert Ian Williams might check the facts before making assertions – at the Censuses of 2011 there were 257,000 members of the Church of Ireland in Northern Ireland and 134,000 in the Republic. Church censuses in 2013 showed attendances in the conservative evangelical diocese of Down and Dromore at just one in seven while those in the ‘liberal’ Cashel and Ossory were one in four.

John
Guest
John

The C of I Archbishop of Dublin’s response was perhaps more nuanced than I first realised. While I didn’t like: ‘A significant majority situation brings with it a fresh responsibility to a numerical minority’, not because of the sentiment itself (which I share), but because the ‘minority’ that has really suffered here has been gay people, I did like: ‘This has involved painfully the abnegation of who they know themselves to be and are perceived to be by others’, because it has no truck at all with any notion that gay people are ‘diseased’, can be ‘cured’, etc. etc.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Ian Poulton is wrong.. I quoted figures for communicant members not nominal census rolls. Down and Dromore has a larger number of active members ( even though it is one in seven of the census roll)more attending as the numbers in Cashel and Osssory are so small. The Church attendance in northern Ireland would be the envy of any Church of England bishop.

Hope you will allow me this fair reply to his accusation

Tim
Guest

It would be really nice if anyone in any church could be reported as saying something positive for once. So far, we have the RCs demonstrating their confusion of good and evil with a “defeat for humanity”, we have the CoI bishops saying [paraphrased] “that’s nice for you, society, but we don’t do that here”, and the Archbishop of Dublin who manages a very half-hearted “safe place” (hey, why not go the whole hog and add equality as the missing dimension in your safe place?) before finishing with a collect that has to wade through sin, penitence, lament and wretchedness… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Here is a whole different take on the “reality check” comment. According to Associated Press reports of comments by the Pope’s no.2.

“In comments to reporters Tuesday evening, Parolin referred to remarks by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, that the results showed the church needed to do a ‘reality check’ since it clearly wasn’t reaching young people with its message.’I don’t think you can speak only about a defeat for Christian principles, but a defeat for humanity,’ he said. “

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/16c6e4c903cd486a8d2b07552eb4d69e/EU–REL-Vatican-Ireland

John
Guest
John

Rod,

The statement ‘our teaching has failed’ can go in different directions: (1) we keep the content the same but have to improve the delivery; (2) maybe the content itself requires a bit of modification. One tries to be analytical, one tries also to encourage the Good. One also notes that many Catholic leaders are pretty pragmatic. I think some of the Irish ones and certainly some of the English ones are going to find practical wiggle room for pastoral reasons. It won’t be enough (no doubt), but it’ll be better than the present – and that’s something worth achieving.

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

It does seem to me that many of the people who voted for marriage equality have concluded that the Church has failed to follow Christ’s commandment that we should love one another.

This is not the rejection of Christ, quite the contrary; it’s the rejection of those who seem to have mislaid their belief in Christ’s message…

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re John May 28 2:30 pm, I agree completely. See my post on May 24, 11:58 pm (above). It’s interesting, however, that the “no. 2” guy at the Vatican has put a particular spin on the “reality check” comment, a spin that favors your (2) hypothesis above.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

A very clear minded unambiguous reality check, perhaps a portent of things to come from other Churches, including Anglicans, i.e. apologizing to the LGBT community for the Church’s prejudice?

“A letter asking the LGBT community for forgiveness by a United Church minister has touched a nerve with thousands of Canadians.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-church-minister-asks-forgiveness-from-lgbt-community-1.3090100

Ian Poulton
Guest
Ian Poulton

Robert Ian Williams,

For the record, the number attending churches in Down and Dromore in November 2013 was around 12,000 out of a pastoral contact number of 73,000 and that in Cashel and Ossory was 2,500 out of a population of 9,900.

Down and Dromore was once one of the strongest dioceses in the Church of Ireland but has experienced sharp decline, a parish in which I served twenty years ago where Sunday attendances averaged over a hundred has lost its parochial status, other parishes have disappeared altogether.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Read carefully the previous postings and my contention still stands. The Dioceses of Northern ireland have the vast majority of communicant members in the Church of Ireland. Also the figures quoted by Ian are from different sources…the Down figure is average Sunday attendance and the Cashel figures are Easter communicants. Yes there is retraction in Protestant Ulster, but nothing like the Church of England.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Here is an editorial from one of Canada’s national media outlet on the “reality check” comment.Published today, Trinity Sunday.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/romes-reality-check-and-irelands-message/article24703989/