Category : Church of Ireland

Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke on the Surprises of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

From there:

And we would therefore do well to remind ourselves that all our planning and all our strategising is of little avail if we do not also place ourselves at the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal Leo Suenens, one of the great Roman Catholic proponents of the modern charismatic movement memorably commented that he would have liked to add a phrase to the creeds. Not only do we believe in the Holy Spirit, he suggested, but we should also express belief in ‘the surprises of the Holy Spirit’. I might perhaps suggest an addition to Cardinal Suenens’ phrase. We should believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit, and our belief should be as much in the surprises of the Holy Spirit that are unwelcome, as in those surprises that we might welcome! In the Church of Ireland, we are not keenly attuned to the possibility of surprises, not even welcome surprises. But if we truly believe in the Holy Spirit, we must believe in surprises, and certainly General Synod and our participation in this Synod can never be all about us, but rather centred and focussed on the glory of God

(and, you guessed it–also quoted in the morning sermon)

Posted in Church History, Church of Ireland, Pentecost, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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

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”.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Armagh’s Presidential Address to the General Synod of the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland

But then, in the culture in which we live, we must strive also for what I would term as real “agility” as a Church community. A phrase coined by a great humanist writer of our era, Zygmund Baumann, shortly before his death, was ‘liquid modernity’. By this, Baumann meant that we are living in a time when there seems to be no permanence – no solid ground – beneath our feet as a society. Whether economically, culturally, politically or socially, we have lost any sense of solidity, of certainty, of permanence. This is undoubtedly a major factor in the rise of a toxic and aggressive populism that is threatening everything in the world around us that we have long taken for granted. People grasp for old certainties even when these are unattainable and even pernicious. It is fascinating that another writer who spoke in similar terms about the erosion of the foundations of everything we take as a given in
terms of proper societal norms, was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing in Germany at the outset of the Second World War. To that, we should surely pay serious heed.

But, as Christian disciples living in liquid modernity, what are we to do; in the words of the psalmist, “What can the righteous do?” They must, first and most importantly, recall the solid foundations on which we are to rely in any place and time – in the words of the traditional prayer for the work of the General Synod, that we may “evermore hold fast and abide in the Apostolic and true Catholic faith”. But we must also be ready to think carefully and critically about everything around us, and indeed about ourselves. The political philosopher Hannah Arendt, best remembered for her phrase, ‘the banality of evil’, also warned us that human stupidity is often not a lack of intelligence, but rather an unwillingness to think critically. And in this sense, stupidity is also a primary source of evil in the world. If we are to think critically and analytically, then we must be able to act with agility in a world where the certainties around us have dissolved into liquid, and herein lies the challenge. We must seek to balance the folly of imagining that the latest whim is a panacea for every issue we have to face (when it may actually be plain daft), with the careful and necessary analysis of the new idea which may take such a length of time to process that, by the time we make a decision, we will be so far behind the proverbial curve that we might as well not bother putting it into effect.

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Religion & Culture

Statement from the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, on the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment in Ireland

Unquestionably, the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment raises a number of complex questions: should abortion be dealt with in the Constitution or by way of government legislation; should the fact that hundreds of Irish women already leave the state every year to procure abortions influence our response; does the fact that many terminations are already taking place in Ireland (using unregulated pills) mean abortion should be made legal; and how should Ireland’s record of failure in the care of women and children – for example in the mother and baby homes – affect the way we vote?

Often, in the past, the protection of vulnerable women and children in Ireland left a lot to be desired, but legislating now to allow the lives of the most defenceless among us to be terminated is not the answer.

Past wrongs would be better addressed by providing better pastoral care in future for women, their partners and their families; by improving support services; and by investing more in medical and mental health services. We must be compassionate in responding to those for whom pregnancy is unwelcome or traumatic, and must seek to offer a positive alternative to abortion.

The Archbishops of the Church of Ireland have stated that “unrestricted access to abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept.” Nevertheless, our tradition is concerned to ensure provision for terminations in – hopefully – rare circumstances and in a safe medical setting.

People differ on where the line should be drawn….

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbishops of Armagh to reflect on ministry and legacy of Saint Patrick at Armagh annual lecture

On Friday 16 March, the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day, the two Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke will join together to host the annual Saint Patrick’s Lecture at at 11.00 am in the Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

At the lecture the Archbishops will reflect on ministry and legacy of our National Patron, Saint Patrick. Following the lecture, UTV presenter Sarah Clarke will host a discussion with the Archbishops on the words of Saint Patrick, and how his message still resonates and holds relevance for many of the challenges faced by people today.

Reflecting on the life of our National Patron ahead of the event, Archbishop Martin said, ‘Saint Patrick, himself a migrant, was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his home. I encourage the faithful at this time to pray for migrants, and all who struggle to live and integrate into new cultures, at home and abroad, arising from displacement and poverty.’

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Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel Ferns and Ossory reflects on recent changes in legislation in reference to Good Friday

It is a truism to say that we live amid the challenges, opportunities and sometimes confusions of a rapidly changing Ireland. While I can get my mind round some of the more obvious and dramatic changes, it is the little things that occasionally pull one up. I have to confess I felt a little twinge of regret when the small piece of legislation allowing for the opening of licensed premises on Good Friday passed rapidly through both Dáil and Seanad.

Thus ended a symbol of public homage to the atmosphere of Good Friday which had been upheld by law since the 1920s. In a changing and more pluralist society this moment no doubt was bound to come. Yet both parliamentary speeches and media coverage seemed almost to delight in pouring scorn on a tradition deemed to be senseless, antediluvian, and an inhibition to spending by tourists.

The Christian religion cannot any longer prescribe how people out in the public square behave on its own days of special holiness; that indeed is clear. But, as the ‘secular’ Good Friday becomes just like the opening day of any other holiday weekend, there are one or two babies that are being thrown out with the proverbial bath water. It was good to have a day when the nation was reminded of its inseparable and dependent relationship with alcohol – in this land we apparently cannot celebrate, commiserate or even relax without it. I say this as someone who is certainly not a Puritan in these matters, and who is constantly aware that when we make Eucharist we drink from a common celebratory cup of wine. Secondly, there was something precious about the silence of the streets on a Good Friday evening – no shouting and mirth at closing time, no raucous singing drifting over the garden wall. It is good for people to experience an atmosphere of corporate silence sometimes, to be challenged to reflect, to eschew the escapism often associated with unending noise.

But this year it will be changed utterly. Or will it? Christian people will still day by day observe the Week of weeks, knowing that the way in which Holy Week is kept is a kind of barometer of the spiritual state of our individual and parochial lives. Perhaps, as the rest of the world seems to be fleeing from any sense that Holy Week is special, we are challenged all the more to witness to the uniqueness and the profound relevance of these saving events.

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Posted in --Ireland, Alcohol/Drinking, Church of Ireland, Holy Week, Religion & Culture

(Belfast Telegraph) Archbishop of Canterbury praises Northern Ireland’s peacemakers on Clonard visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury has paid a visit to Clonard Monastery along with more than 60 members of the Church of England clergy.

Archbishop Justin Welby visited the Belfast monastery yesterday as part of a private pilgrimage on peace and reconciliation.

The head of the Church of England, who was installed in the role in 2013 after less than two years as a bishop, was welcomed to Belfast by Fr Noel Kehoe, rector of Clonard.

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Posted in --Ireland, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland, Rural/Town Life

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Archbishop of Armagh’s Presidential Address at Armagh Diocesan Synod 2017

A third word is engagement. The word has a number of nuances, but here I mean – in effect – the opposite of disengagement. You and I are called to be committed to and involved in the life, the needs and the cares of the world around us. It is very easy for Christians to separate their religion from the everyday life of the world; it is also supremely dangerous. In what we know as the “high–priestly prayer”, that prayer of Our Lord in John’s Gospel, chapter 17, his prayer is that his followers will be fully in the world, in the darkness of the world as well as its joys. If we as disciples live only in a ghetto of our own making, we are actively shutting people out of the Church, and so we are shutting out Jesus Christ himself.

On the night of the terrible fire in the Grenfell Tower in London in June, the first people on the scene to bring help and comfort (other than the fire and police services) were men and women of local faith communities. I learnt more recently that there is a computerised system that ensures that when more than six fire appliances are called to a fire, or a terrorist outrage or any other disaster, the Salvation Army will automatically be called for help. They were there first on the night of the Grenfell fire, but very quickly local faith groups of every kind were combining to give shelter, food, blankets and just straightforward comfort to those who had escaped from the tower block. More movingly, by the next morning the west London synagogue had sent a huge consignment of clothes, food and other necessities to the local mosque. The faith response to Grenfell is, in Christian terms, not simply good neighbourliness, important though this undoubtedly is. It is the command of faith that if we are not engaged with the world around us – fully and even sacrificially – we have left Christ outside the door of our churches. How can we then expect anyone else outside our doors to take us seriously or wish to be part of us?

The fourth and final word may be the most unexpected, enchantment. We may associate enchantment with the world of Harry Potter or the novels of Philip Pullman, but that should perhaps teach us something. Even those, such as Pullman, who are deeply antagonistic to religious faith of any kind, realise that an immensely deep need in people is to be captivated by something beyond themselves. Enchantment comes from the idea of the entrancing song that can carry people to another place of wonder, a place beyond themselves. This is not about stunts or artificial trickery but about the magnetic love of Christ calling people out of themselves, their misery and fear and anger, towards his love.

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Posted in Church of Ireland

Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission To Meet in Dublin, Ireland for the First Time

The Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission will meet in Dublin from October 23 to 28 for the first time since its foundation. Hosted by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, who is one of the founding members, the Commission will consider two main items. The first is the completion of an agreed text on the Holy Spirit that will be linked with the mission of the Church. It is hoped that the agreed statement will be completed and signed by the two co–chairs in the course of the meeting. The second agenda item is an initial exploration of areas around “authority in the Church”.

This will be the sixth meeting of the Commission since its foundation in 2001. While in Dublin, members will attend St Maximous and St Domatius Coptic Orthodox Church in Drumcondra for prayers in the Coptic tradition.

They will also visit the Chester Beatty Library, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library, the Book of Kells in Trinity College. They will attend Choral Evensong and a reception in Christ Church Cathedral hosted by Dean Dermot Dunne and a reception in the Mansion House to meet the Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath/Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha and leaders of other faiths in Ireland and members of inter faith groups.

“We look forward to welcoming the Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission to Dublin and our hopes for this consultation are that the Commission might see that there is a spiritual core and a religious dynamic to Dublin historically and in lived actuality,” said Archbishop Michael Jackson.

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church

Bishop of Clogher John McDowell’s Diocesan Synod Address

One of the principal tasks of a leader is to communicate reality to those who wish to take his or her lead, and the reality that I observe all around me, not just in Church but in every sphere of life, is a mood of impatience with other points of view, of an increasing narrowing of vision and of a drawing back from the sort of commitment that creates sustainable and worthwhile communities. It is hardly an exaggeration to call these developments the triumph of individualism and I sometimes think that the word “individual” should be banned from Christian conversations and replaced by a word like “person” to reflect the complexity and value which each of us has – what we share as much as what we need.

This individualism which is so prevalent in our world and sometimes in our parishes is the enemy of reasoned debate and very far from the spirit of Anglicanism. Over the past ten years or so a new and very revealing way of opening a conversation or a debate has entered into our way of talking. “Speaking as an X.” somebody will say, whatever X might be. Speaking say as a woman or speaking as a progressive or speaking as a traditionalist or speaking as a unionist or as a republican – whatever it might be. But the intention of that way of opening a conversation is not to engage in an equal conversation but to establish some sort of privileged position. “I am X and you are not, so you couldn’t possibly understand.” It is an attempt to set up a wall against questions and it turns conversations into an encounter about power. The winner of the argument won’t be the person who has the strongest reasons but the one who has the morally superior identity and can express the greatest outrage at being questioned.

The key word to look out for is “offended”. Other people’s arguments aren’t weak or illogical – they are offensive. What replaces argument is a series of taboos rather like in the old paganism where only a small number of people, like the Druids or the shamans, were permitted to speak on certain matters or do certain things but nobody else not of that caste could interfere. Propositions become pure or impure, not true or false. Ask any of your children who have been to university recently about the matters which people simply aren’t allowed to debate any more or the beliefs which are denigrated because they are outside a certain limited range of reference.

As you may have guessed by now I believe that the antidote to this strange perversion of the liberal spirit is the smallness and the diversity of the parish. It is what I meant when I said last year that the parish is the place where we create local significance in a globalised world.

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Posted in Church of Ireland, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Belfast’s St Patrick’s Church ‘needs millions’ for restoration

St Patrick’s Church has been standing on Donegall Street in Belfast since 1877.
The building withstood the Belfast Blitz during World War Two and recovered from a catastrophic fire in 1995.
But its distinctive stone cladding exterior is now struggling to hold off the ravages of weather and time.
And millions of pounds will be required to carry out restoration work, according to the church administrator.

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Posted in Church of Ireland

Anglican church to be shared by both Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic parishes

Two different Christian denominations will be sharing the same place of worship during the next year in an example of neighbourliness and friendship.

When it was learned that St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan would be closed for a year for essential renovations, their church neighbours, St Maeldoid’s Church of Ireland parish at Muckno, Castleblayney, in Clogher Diocese, offered the use of their beautiful gothic–style building.

This generous gesture by the Select Vestry of St Maeldoid’s along with their rector, the Revd Neal Phair, and approved by the Bishop of Clogher, Right Revd John McDowell, was accepted by the Parish Priest of St Mary’s, Father Pat McHugh and his parishioners and from next Monday, 19th June, St Maeldoid’s Church will be used for both Church of Ireland services and Masses.

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Posted in Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Bishop Paul Colton–Scottish Episcopal Church’s approach to same-sex Marriage may represent a Way Forward for Church of Ireland says

In this section of his Synod address, Bishop Colton said:

‘Change is signalled also by the decision two days ago, on Thursday, 8th June, of our sister Church in Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, to alter its canon on marriage by removing the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Clergy who wish to conduct same-sex marriages will have to opt in, and no priest is to be compelled to do so.’

‘As we saw at our own General Synod recently arising from a private members motion, there are many in the Church of Ireland who are anxious to debate such issues here too. Equally many are determined that this is not a matter which is up for debate at all. There is a debate, and, however tentatively, it has, in fact, started.’

‘That such things are open to debate in this Church has always been the case. If there had been no questioning or discourse, the Reformation itself would not have happened, nor would many other developments have unfolded over the centuries, in ministry, in liturgy and in belief, the most recent examples being our change in approach to suicide, to the marriage in church of divorcees, and also the ordination of women, and there are many others.’

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Posted in Church of Ireland, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Irish Times) Church of Ireland delegates defeat motion on public service for same-sex couples

Clergy and laity voted separately with 72 clergy opposing, 56 in support and nine abstaining. Of the laity 104 opposed, 90 were in support, and 15 abstained. The House of Bishops did not take part in the debate or vote as the motion was directed towards them.

Before that debate, and after four years of discussion without resolution, the church’s select committee on human sexuality recommended “that the bishops further examine the unresolved theological differences as represented in the select committee, with a view to making a proposal to facilitate a way forward”.

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Posted in Church of Ireland