Thinking Anglicans

Church of Ireland welcomes Ashers Bakery decision

Updated Sunday evening

When we reported on this case in 2015 we used the headline: Ashers Bakery judgement generates controversy.

This week the UK Supreme Court issued its judgment. The full text is available here.

The Church of Ireland has published: Statement on Ashers bakery case judgment.

The Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Kearon, Chair of the Church of Ireland’s Church and Society Commission, made the following statement regarding the UK Supreme Court’s judgment in the case involving Ashers bakery on Wednesday, 10th October.

‘We welcome the affirmation of religious freedom and expression in this particular case. This is a complex issue which does involve the balancing of rights. The decision by the Supreme Court in this case affirms the rights of the business and does not significantly impact on the freedom of choice for the customer.’

The case is analysed in various places, including:

Disagreement with the decision has been expressed here:

Agreement with it came from:

Update
Many more links here.

53 Comments

Ireland: House of Bishops statement on Sexuality

from a press release:

House of Bishops Issue Statement to General Synod on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief

The Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman, the House of Bishops said today in a statement to General Synod in Armagh.

Their statement on human sexuality in the context of Christian belief was read by the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Revd Pat Storey, on behalf of the House of Bishops. It noted that the issue had been passed to the House of Bishops following the conclusion of the work of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief at General Synod last year.

The archbishops and bishops said that it had been noted that following the production of the Guide to Human Sexuality, there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes.

“It would seem that there is no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island–wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage. Thus the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorised service is provided therefore for any other situation. As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland,” the statement reads.

The statement concludes: “It is widely recognised that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion. We ask that all members of Synod who continue to hold strong opinions do so with integrity and compassion, and to also hold in prayer before God the challenging diversity that exists within the Church of Ireland”.

The full text of the statement is available here as a PDF.

8 Comments

Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit – Now is not the time for Reconciliation.

Updates

Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit – Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave

15 Comments

Church responses to the EU Referendum

Updated Friday evening, Saturday morning, Sunday morning

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint statement.

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe has written a message to the diocese, copied below, and has also published this further reflection.

“The UK referendum campaign has been a bruising one, and I hope very much that there will now be a period of reconciliation and healing between those on different sides of the debate.

“The news that a majority of those in the UK wishes to leave the UK does not lessen the fervent desire of the Church of England Diocese in Europe to work co-operatively with our brother and sister Christians in Europe.

“The vote will, however, have particular implications for some members of our diocese. Of course, the vote itself only signals the intent to launch a long process of negotiations with the European Council. It is only as that process gets underway that we will know exactly how UK citizens living in Europe will be affected. Meanwhile, I want to assure our ecumenical partners in Europe of our heartfelt and continuing commitment to them.”

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has written: We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling.

Updates

Scottish Primus

Archbishop of Dublin and Archbishop of Armagh

Church in Wales bishops

Bishop of Blackburn

Bishop of Coventry

Bishop of Leeds

Bishop of Liverpool

Bishop of London

Bishop of Newcastle

Bishop of Norwich

Bishop of St Albans

Bishop of Sheffield

30 Comments

Church of Ireland conversations on human sexuality

The Church of Ireland’s Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief has published a major document.

The Select Committee’s remit is to enable the listening, dialogue and learning process on all issues concerning human sexuality in the context of Christian belief to continue. The Guide to the Conversation and the Executive Summary document are initial publications to support this objective.

Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief

There is also an Executive Summary (oddly this is a much larger PDF file than the report itself).

There is also a press release: Remarks at the Launch of the Guide to the Conversation.

Changing Attitude Ireland has published this:
Launch of ‘Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’.

7 Comments

Irish bishops write to clergy about same sex marriage

It is reported, see here and also here, that the following letter has been sent to each member of the clergy by their diocesan bishop:

Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the Church of Ireland from their bishops on same-sex marriage
29 Dec 2015

SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES CONCERNING SAME SEX MARRIAGE

l am writing to you in the light of the Marriage Equality Referendum in the Republic of Ireland and the subsequent legislation. It is recognised that in the Church of Ireland there are differing opinions and responses to the outcome of the referendum itself. Together with my episcopal colleagues, I seek to encourage a spirit of mutual respect and attentiveness to one another as we move forward together in a context of new civic realities and possibilities in the Republic of Ireland. There will be many new situations of pastoral sensitivity arising.

Hitherto the Church and the State in both jurisdictions have substantially overlapped in their definition of marriage. This is no longer the case in the Republic of Ireland.

We also need to understand that under current legislation, involvement of a member of the clergy of the Church of Ireland as a solemniser (Republic of Ireland) or an officiant (Northern Ireland) in a wedding is an expressly legal function.

The following are some questions that have already been raised:

Q. Will a member of the clergy who is on the Register of Solemnisers (Republic of Ireland) now be able to conduct a same-sex marriage?

R. This will not be possible while the Canons of the Church of Ireland stand as they are. The powers of conducting a marriage as delegated to an ordained minister in the Church of Ireland require that the marriage be conducted according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of Ireland, and therefore the doctrine as reflected in those rites and ceremonies. The Church of Ireland does not have a liturgy of same-sex marriage.

Q. Are clergy permitted to conduct a blessing of a same-sex marriage?

R. There is no provision in the Book of Common Prayer or other authorized liturgies of the church for the blessing of a same sex marriage. In addition the service known as A Form of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage (pages 431 ff) presupposes the civil marriage of a man and a woman as husband and wife and cannot be used in this context.

Q. If two people who enter a same-sex civil marriage ask a member of the clergy to say prayers with them, how am I to reply and what am I to do?

R. It is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, nor would one wish to do so. In fact, in situations of rejoicing and crisis, such prayers often are at the heart of ministry. Any such prayers should remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of lreland.

Q. If I am asked to attend a same-sex marriage, should I go?

R. The decision lies with the individual who will bring to this decision criteria of friendship and conscience, following personal prayer and reflection.

Q. What is the situation if I, as a member of the clergy serving in the Church of Ireland decide to enter a same-sex marriage?

R. All are free to exercise their democratic entitlements once they are enshrined in legislation. However, members of the clergy, are further bound by the Ordinal and by the authority of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. It ls essential that any member of the clergy seeking to explore entering into a same sex marriage should think carefully about the response of others, not only in the immediate locality. This is an extension of the reflection, often requiring restraint in a range of matters, expected of clergy who are both public and private people at the same time.

The bishops of the Church of Ireland, acting corporately and individually, are well aware that, in the eyes of many, for an ordained member of the clergy to enter publicly into a civil marriage would be regarded as divisive. The backdrop to this is that such a situation is contrary to what the Church of Ireland currently practices within its own framework of regulation. The situation is that State provision in the Republic of Ireland now differs significantly from that in the Church of Ireland. It is for this reason that we encourage a restraint for the sake of unity that is respectful of the principles of others in the mixed flock to whom clergy offer service and leadership in the things of God.

There has been a strongly worded criticism of this statement by Reform Ireland. You can read that response here.

20 Comments

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.

37 Comments

Church of Ireland General Synod meeting reports

Updated Monday

The Church of Ireland held its General Synod from 8 to 10 May.

There are several reports of major items on the official church website:

The Archbishop Of Armagh’s Presidential Address At The General Synod 2014

General Synod 2014: Interchangeability Of Ministry Between Church Of Ireland And Methodist Church In Ireland

The Explanatory Memorandum and the full text of the Bill as presented to synod is here.

Synod Hears Interim Report Of Committee On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief

This last item was also reported on in the Irish Times Church committee on sexuality needs more time for final report

Update

The Church of Ireland Gazette now has a number of reports available online at this location including those on the new relationship with the Methodist church, and on the progress of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief.

5 Comments

More women bishops

The Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada elected the Reverend Canon Melissa Skelton to be its ninth bishop on Saturday.

Press reports include:

Huffington Post Canada Rev. Melissa Skelton Elected Bishop Of New Westminster
Douglas Todd Vancouver Sun Rev. Melissa Skelton elected bishop of Vancouver-area Anglican diocese
Paul Sullivan Matro [Canada] Anglican bishop brings branding skills

By coincidence the election took place on the same day as the Consecration Of The Revd Pat Storey As Bishop Of Meath & Kildare. Patrick Comerford, a Canon at Christ Church Cathedral, where the service took place, describes the occasion in detail: A Memorable Afternoon at the Consecration of Bishop Pat Storey in Christ Church Cathedral. The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church was there, as was the Archbishop of Wales. The Archbishop of Canterbury was represented by Archdeacon Sheila Watson.

Claire Duffin Telegraph First female Anglican bishop consecrated
BBC Irish Anglicans install Rev Pat Storey as bishop
Belfast Newsletter First woman bishop installed by Anglican Church
Sarah Stack of the Press Association in the Irish Independent Tributes paid to first woman bishop at Christ Church Cathedral
The Irish news CoI consecrates first female bishop
The Irish Times Irish woman becomes first female bishop in UK and Ireland
Ciarán Hanna Inside Ireland Tributes to first woman bishop on these islands consecrated by the Church of Ireland at a service in Dublin

Savitri Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Ireland’s first – or perhaps second – woman bishop

63 Comments

Church Commissioners share in purchase of bank

A consortium including the Church Commissioners are the preferred bidders to purchase 314 bank branches from RBS, it was announced today. Details are in this press release from the Commissioners.

Church Commissioners statement on RBS bid

The Church Commissioners for England have today confirmed that as part of a consortium of investors they will be partnering with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to create a leading challenger bank from 314 RBS branches across the UK.

The confirmation follows the decision of the board of RBS to favour the bid of a consortium which includes the Corsair Capital investment fund, Centerbridge Partners and the Commissioners to create a new bank with a focus on ethical standards and servicing the needs of retail and SME customers.

The new bank, to be called Williams and Glyn’s (W&G), will be a vigorous challenger in UK business and retail banking sector with a projected 5% market share of the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) and mid-corporate banking markets, and a 2% share of UK personal current accounts.

Andreas Whittam Smith, first estates commissioner, said:
“The Church Commissioners are excited to have the opportunity to be involved in creating a U.K. challenger bank operating to the highest ethical standards and giving consumers more choice. We are delighted that the Royal Bank of Scotland recognised the strengths of our bid and the consortium’s vision, and have chosen the consortium as their preferred bidder.”
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said:
“This is a great opportunity for the Commissioners to invest in an exciting opportunity for the benefit of the serving and retired clergy, bishops, cathedrals and the wide work of the Church of England throughout the country especially in areas of need and opportunity.”

The Church Commissioners for England are responsible for managing a well-diversified investment portfolio with the aim of producing returns to support the Church of England’s work across the country.

Notes:
The Church Commissioners manage an investment fund of some £5.5 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community.

The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:

  • A return on investments of RPI +5%
  • Supporting poorer dioceses with ministry costs
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving and retired clergy

A copy of their annual report for 2012 can be found here.:

RBS says Return of Williams & Glyn’s moves closer.

Press reports include:

James Quinn in The Telegraph RBS sells stake in Project Rainbow branches to Corsair for as much as £800m
Jill Treanor in The Guardian RBS sells 314 branches to church-backed Corsair consortium
BBC News RBS sells 314 bank branches to Corsair consortium
Sky News Church Consortium Wins RBS Branch Sale Race

6 Comments

Women bishops and the recognition of Orders

The recent decision of the Church in Wales to allow women to be consecrated as bishops, and the election of a woman bishop in the Church of Ireland have prompted an article, Women bishops and the recognition of Orders, by Will Adam, editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, in Law and Religion UK about the implications for the Church of England.

… This is bound to bring up again the question of the recognition in a Church which does not permit the ordination of women as bishop of episcopal acts performed by a bishop who is a woman …

However, the consecration of a woman as a bishop in the Church of Ireland changes the situation. Deacons, priests and bishops of the Church of Ireland, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church are not considered as “overseas” clergy by the law applying to the Church of England. This is significant, because the permission of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is not required for such ministers to be invited to exercise the ministry of their orders in England …

The article refers to this 2004 opinion from the Legal Advisory Commission of the Church of England: The Effect of Acts by women Bishops of Churches in Communion with the Church of England.

Kelvin Holdswoth writes about the same topic in Taint. He concludes with

What I’m interested in is that with respect of our current bishops in Scotland, all of them have either had a female co-consecrator present at their consecration, joined in consecrating someone with a female co-consecrator present or have been consecrated by someone who has had a female co-consecrator present at their own consecration.

What I wonder is whether those who apply the theology of taint believe that anyone at all (bishops, priests or deacons) now ordained in Scotland is legit.

Oh, and by the way an English bishop was present and joining in when this situation began. I was there – I saw it with my own eyes.

Where does this leave the Scottish Episcopal Church in relation to those who would deny the legitimacy of women to act as bishops? …

Do we, or do we not, remain in full communion with [all of] the Church of England?

10 Comments

Reform Ireland criticises appointment of new Bishop of Meath and Kildare

Reform Ireland has published this:

Appointment of the new Bishop of Meath

The Church of Ireland, in common with the Anglican Communion worldwide, has always prized doing things ‘decently and in order’ (1Corinthians 14:40). With the appointment of the first woman bishop in Britain and Ireland, it has furthered the disorder in God’s church that it originally initiated with the decision to appoint women as presbyters and bishops by an act of Synod in 1990.

God’s order for the family and for his church is male headship, a loving, Christ-like, self-sacrificing leadership for the purpose of leading others into maturity and fellowship in Christ. This ordering, initiated by God at the creation of man and woman, is not based upon or designed to produce any inferiority or inequality of woman to man. Rather, it is based upon the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself.

As God’s Word makes clear, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal persons of the eternal Trinity, ‘One God world without end.’ Yet, the Son is eternally submissive to the Father (1Cor.11:3), who is described as his ‘head’, and similarly the Holy Spirit’s role in the economy of God is to serve the Father and the Son. Such headship of the Father does not imply the inferiority of the Son or the Spirit. Rather, the submissiveness of the Son within the Trinity is for the purpose of a perfect loving fellowship where there is mutual glorification of the other.

In 1 Corinthians 11, the NT teaches that the principle of male headship in the family and the church is modelled upon the relationship of the Father and the Son. Male and female are equal in status (Galatians 3:28) but woman is called to be submissive to God’s design for male headship in the church. This voluntary acceptance by a co-equal of her role in the church is her Christ-like service of God, and like Christ does not imply any inferiority or inequality. On the contrary, like the voluntary submissive relationships within the Trinity, the purpose of the woman and the man in playing such complimentary roles is for the purpose of mutual glorification of the other in Christ.

This complementarian approach is creational, biblical and crucial for our sanctification in Christ. To ignore God’s design for man and woman is to bring disharmony and disorder into Christ’s body. The Church of Ireland, by its recent appointment of a woman to be Bishop, has not only brought more disharmony and disorder into God’s church, but it has also side-lined Christ in his own church. If God’s Word does not rule his body, the church, then Christ is a mere figure-head and not the captain of his people.

By ignoring God’s equality agenda and role for man and woman and substituting it with a ‘spirit-of-the-age’ equality agenda, the Church of Ireland has in effect discriminated against those who hold to a biblical position. This decision will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland. The appointment to Meath is therefore a sad day for many in the Church of Ireland because it is one more indication that the Church of Ireland is no longer listening to God’s purposes for his church.

23th Sep 2013

45 Comments

Patricia Storey to be Bishop of Meath and Kildare

Church of Ireland press release: Bishops Appoint The Revd Pat Storey As New Bishop Of Meath And Kildare

The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland meeting yesterday in Dublin appointed the Revd Pat (Patricia) Storey as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare, to succeed The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, who is now Archbishop of Armagh. The appointment of the new bishop had passed to the House of Bishops as the Episcopal Electoral College which met on 28 May failed to appoint a Bishop of Meath and Kildare dioceses. The Revd Pat Storey is currently Rector of St Augustine’s Parish Church, Londonderry.

Announcing the appointment of the Revd Pat Storey, The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: ‘Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.’

Responding, the Revd Pat Storey said: ‘I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives. I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St Augustine’s and in this wonderful city which I will be sad to leave. However, I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!’

The Revd Pat Storey (53) has been Rector of St Augustine’s, Londonderry (Derry and Raphoe) since 2004. She is married to the Revd Earl Storey and has two adult children, Carolyn and Luke, and a son–in–law Peter. Having grown up in Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin, she trained at the Church of Ireland Theological College (now Institute) and was ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998. She served a Curacy in Ballymena (Connor) and was a Team Vicar in Glenavy (Connor) and a part–time Youth Worker Co–ordinator with the Church of Ireland Youth Department. Among Central Church participation, she is a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod. The Revd Pat Storey becomes the first woman to be appointed a bishop in the Church of Ireland.

The consecration of the new bishop will take place in due course, followed by enthronement in the diocesan cathedrals thereafter.

Another press release: Archbishop Of Dublin Welcomes Appointment Of The Revd Pat Storey As New Bishop Of Meath And Kildare

22 Comments

Church of Ireland General Synod establishes sexuality committee

The Church of Ireland General Synod met from 9 to 11 May, but we failed to report anything about it at that time.

There were several reports of the synod in the Church Times issue dated 17 May, but these are only available to subscribers.

The Church of Ireland official site has news reports linked from here. There is a detailed report titled Resolution Establishing Select Committee On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief Passed.

Archbishop Michael Jackson said that there had been developments in the debate on Human Sexuality in the year since Synod 2012. “I sense now in 2013 more of a mood of sober carefulness than I have sensed before in relation to this most private of subjects and most invasive of areas. I also sense a proper fearfulness of insult and diminishment of others whom we are only now beginning to understand. If the passage of time has taught us any of this, then it is indeed good that time passes. There is no attractiveness or advantage in ripping ourselves or indeed our polity apart by the abstracted certainties which, all too readily, make it impossible for us to see the face of Jesus Christ in our neighbour and, I would have to add, in our enemy. This cannot continue to be a game of: cat and cat,” he said.

He said that the bishops and the Standing Committee had worked on drawing together the names of people who represent a broad range of human sympathy, life experience and geographical belonging in the complex organism that is the Church of Ireland of today to form the Select Committee. He said it was important to ensure that all points of view were included on the committee and said there must be room for co–options at later stages.

The Belfast Telegraph reported this under the headline Church denies ‘stalling’ on same-sex relationships.

The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke has denied that the creation of a Select Committee to consider same-sex relationships and human sexuality is an attempt by the Church to “stall” on handling this contentious issue.
At a General Synod press conference in Armagh he told reporters: “The subject of same-sex relationships is desperately divisive but we are trying to approach it in a systematic way.
“The creation of a Select Committee is not an attempt to kick anything into the long grass. If we rush things, people will want to think of ‘winning or losing’ but that is not the way the spirit of God works.
“ This is a time for people to listen generously to one another. It is no a stalling process, and I would not want to a party to anything which is evolved in this way.”
The Archbishop, who holds a traditional view of marriage, also said: “I have to be prepared to listen intently to the views of others. I have to be ready to the possibility of my mind and spirit being changed, and others will have to do likewise.”

The Church of Ireland Gazette carries reports of the synod and editorial comment in its 17 May issue. It  had also carried a letter before the meeting, in its 3 May issue, which can be read in full here (scroll down) and starts this way:

It is almost beyond belief that there is not a single member of the proposed Select Committee on Human Sexuality who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (Gazette report, last week).
While there is space for two co-options, that these must come from General Synod – which (as far as I am aware) has only one openly gay member – makes it entirely possible that the committee will remain ‘straights only’.
Can we envisage the Church of Ireland setting up a committee with an all-white membership to examine the experiences of the growing number of ethnic minority people in our parishes?
Or could we imagine the State establishing a commission on gender equality with an all-male membership?

4 Comments

Same-Sex Marriage in Ireland

The Irish Government has established a Constitutional Convention to consider a number of possible changes to the Irish Constitution. These issues are varied and include changes to the electoral system, the removal of the offence of Blasphemy, and provisions for same-sex marriage. The latter may or may not be precluded by Article 41 of the Constitution as currently worded.

Changing Attitude Ireland has made a written submission to the Convention, which can be read or downloaded as a PDF. Here’s the Executive Summary:

  • CAI strongly supports the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.
  • The existing inequalities between civil partnership and civil marriage have a realworld detrimental impact on the lives of same-sex couples, and even more on children being raised by them.
  • Allowing churches and other faith groups to ‘opt in’ to registering same-sex marriages, while protecting them from any attempt at compulsion, is the best way to respect the religious freedoms of both those who support and those who oppose same-sex marriage. This is particularly important in the Irish context, where there is a history of civil marriage law being used to discriminate against religious minorities.
  • Like many other Christian bodies, CAI supports marriage equality not despite its faith background, but because of it, believing marriage and stable relationships to be one of the bedrocks of society.
  • Although there is significant faith opposition to marriage equality, this must be understood in the light of the long Christian history of opposition to equality under the law and outright homophobia.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the Guardian reports Northern Ireland’s ban on gay marriage to be challenged by Amnesty in court.

Amnesty International and gay pressure groups have warned that Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government will soon face a human rights legal case over its refusal to allow gay couples to marry.

Unionist parties have voted at Stormont to ensure Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are excluded from the same-sex marriage bill, which was passed in the Commons in February…

Paul Johnson at ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog has more legal detail: ECHR complaint is likely if same-sex couples cannot marry in Northern Ireland.

Possible court action could be brought under the Human Rights Act in the domestic courts and, if that failed to remedy the situation, a complaint could be made to the European Court of Human Rights. Such a complaint to the Court would present a novel legal issue which it has hitherto not considered: the existence of different arrangements for same-sex marriage within a nation state. Whilst the Court has so far been reluctant to recognize a right to same-sex marriage under Article 12 of the Convention, the existence of differences in treatment in marriage within the jurisdictions of the UK based solely on sexual orientation could make a more compelling Article 14 case than those argued in previous applications. What would the Court make of a situation whereby citizens of a Council of Europe state could contract same-sex civil marriage in one part of the state but not in another?

9 Comments

Church and State – an idiot’s guide

In this week of the second Sunday in Advent, readers are invited to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this very helpful article by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK.

Church and State – an idiot’s guide

It starts:

When matters touching on relations between religion and the state are discussed it not infrequently happens that the terminology becomes hopelessly confused and misused – sometimes by people who really should know better. So the following is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the absolute basics of Church and State.

First, there are four separate territories in the United Kingdom…

5 Comments

Two Anglican provinces elect new primates

The Province of West Africa made this announcement a few days ago: New Primate elected for the Church of the Province of West Africa.

CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA (Anglican Communion)

ELECTION OF THE NINTH PRIMATE OF CPWA

Upon the approval of the amendments to the constitution to create two internal provinces in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA) namely, the province of Ghana to comprise all the dioceses in Ghana and the province of West Africa to comprise the dioceses in Bo, Cameroon, Freetown, Gambia, Guinea and Liberia; each to be headed by an Archbishop:

The province of Ghana elected Rt. Revd. Dr. Daniel Yinka Sarfo, Bishop of Kumasi as the Archbishop-elect and the province of West Africa, Rt. Revd. Dr. S. Tilewa Johnson, Bishop of Gambia as the Archbishop-elect.

Archbishop-elect S. Tilewa Johnson was then elected as the Ninth Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa for a term of five (5) years.

Dated this 29th day of September, 2012 at Cuttington University, Suacoco, Liberia
(signed) +AlbertDG Gomez
RT. REVD. ALBERT D. G. GOMEZ
DEAN OF THE CHURCH OF PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA (CPWA)

Today, the Church of Ireland made this announcement: The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke Elected As Archbishop Of Armagh And Primate Of All Ireland

The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath and Kildare, has been elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland, following the retirement of Archbishop Alan Harper on 30 September…

…The House of Bishops also decided that his election would take effect from 15 December 2012 which will be the date of the bishop’s translation and enthronement in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. In the meantime, The Venerable Raymond Hoey, Archdeacon of Armagh, will carry the diocesan responsibilities for the Diocese of Armagh. The Provincial responsibilities are carried by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson until this date.

3 Comments

Archbishop Alan Harper to retire

Church of Ireland press release

Archbishop Harper To Retire

The Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan, The Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, has announced his intention to retire later this year. The decision will take effect from 1 October 2012.

Archbishop Harper, who is 68, has been a bishop for 10 years having served as Bishop of Connor from 2002 to 2007; he was elected as Archbishop of Armagh in January 2007 and enthroned in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh on 16 March 2007. A former Chairman of the Historic Monuments Council for Northern Ireland (Member 1980–1988, Chairman 1988–1995), he was awarded an O.B.E. for services to Conservation in Northern Ireland in 1996. The Archbishop is married to Helen and has four children and ten grandchildren.

Archbishop 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…

3 Comments

Church of Ireland: report of sexuality debate

Updated again Monday morning

This is what happened on Saturday.

The motions were re-introduced as a single motion, in this form.

The Archbishop of Dublin proposed them in this speech.

The Bishop of Down & Dromore seconded them in this speech.

Four separate amendments were proposed. After some debate, they were voted on, and all of them were defeated.

Text of amendments:

The unamended motion was then passed.

Some official reports now published:

Motion Passed On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief

General Synod Passes Motion On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief

Discussion On Human Sexuality Motion Encompasses Broad Range Of Views

The following voting figures for the main motion have been reported on Twitter

Clergy 81-53 in favour, Laity 154-60 in favour, Bishops 10-2

They are confirmed by this Irish Times report CofI affirms marriage teaching and there appears to be a later version of this article here.

The motion, proposed by the Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and the Bishop of Down & Dromore Harold Miller, was supported by 81 clergy and 154 laity. It was opposed by 53 clergy and 60 laity.

Following the general vote, the church’s bishops then voted, by standing. All but the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Paul Colton, and the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory, Michael Burrows, supported the motion.

Church News Ireland has several additional reports, including:

General Synod debate on sexuality 2 – Contributors and voting

Votes on amendments

There were then votes by orders on the four proposed amendments which involved members passing though tellers and in accord with standing orders a five minute interval was required before each vote was taken. The process in all took over 45 minutes.

A proposal by Canon Patrick Comerford and the Reverend Stephen Fielding which inter alii sought to include reference to the BCP pp 405 − 438 was lost. Clergy for 58, against 73 – Laity for 84, against 122.

A proposal by Mr Andrew McNeile and the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunn, to replace the fourth paragraph of the motion was lost. Clergy for 54, against 75 – Laity for 84, against 126.

A proposal by Neville Bagnell and AG Oughton to remove a word and insert the word bigotry was lost. Clergy for 56, against 73 – Laity for 89, against 121.

A proposal by the Reverend Darren McCallig and Mrs Joan Bruton extending the definition of marriage and referring to “the normative context for sexual intercourse” was lost. Clergy for 48, against 81- Laity for 60, against 148.

Vote on substantive motion

The motion in the names of the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Down was passed. Clergy for 81 , against 53 – Laity for 154 , against 60 .

The House of Bishops then voted in public. Two against.

General Synod debate on sexuality 3 – Media coverage

25 Comments

Church of Ireland: Sexuality resolutions to be reintroduced

This morning there is a further development in this story. From the official news service:

Following morning devotions, the Archbishop of Armagh announced that the majority of the bishops were of the view that the General Synod should have the opportunity to discuss the issues raised by Motions 8a to c on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief which was not able to happen yesterday. He said a revised motion was to be introduced. The discussion on the new motion will take place tomorrow morning (Saturday) immediately after the completion of consideration of Bill No 6.

Belfast Newsletter CoI U-turn on gay row motion

THE Church of Ireland will debate gay relationships tomorrow after a decision to stop the debate taking place was effectively overturned following behind the scenes negotiations in Dublin today.

A motion brought to the church’s General Synod by two bishops to re-affirm the church’s teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman was ruled out of order by the Archbishop of Armagh, Alan Harper, on Thursday in dramatic scenes which led to two other motions about same-sex relationships being withdrawn.

But between Thursday night and Friday morning, conservative members of the church succeeded in bundling all three motions together and re-introducing them for discussion on Saturday morning under Standing Order 31 (d) in what could be a bitter debate.

Tomorrow’s motions will allow for the church to publicly discuss homosexuality for the first time since the News Letter revealed last September that Dean Tom Gordon had become the first serving Church of Ireland cleric to enter a civil partnership.

The three original motions had been presented by the liberal Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, and the evangelical bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller in a public show of unity.

But on Thursday as the first motion came to be debated the liberal Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, Michael Burrows, raised a point of order about his fellow bishops’ motion which led to Archbishop Alan Harper ruling that it could not be discussed.

Bishop Burrows, who was aware of Dean Gordon’s civil partnership before it took place, was openly jeered by large sections of the synod in Dublin’s Christchurch Cathedral but applauded loudly by others in a public sign of the considerable strain within the church.

Reintroducing the motion has infuriated some liberal members of the church who yesterday believed that they had defeated a motion which they believe will make it harder to get the church to accept gay relationships at a later point.

The Church of Ireland press office said that while the text of the three motions had now been incorporated into a single motion, the ‘preamble’ to the original motions had been dropped.

That preamble had said: “Having regard to the present discussions in the Church of Ireland on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, the General Synod affirms that…”

(more…)

28 Comments