Category : Church of Ireland

The Bishop of Clogher’s Pastoral Letter in unprecedented times

So how do we maintain our life of prayer and spiritual solidarity in the midst of it all – especially at a time when prayer is so vital …. For the anxious and suffering, for healthcare workers and medical researchers, for those who must make difficult decisions in public health and in government. I offer but a few suggestions

  • it is hoped that, particularly on Sundays but on other days too, church buildings would be very visibly ‘open’ to be used as places of prayer and peace. Subject to good practice surrounding social distancing and hygiene, resources for prayer might be provided, whether on paper or on screens, reflective music played, etc. And buildings which welcome people in this way should if possible be heated.
  • People should be encouraged to use the worship opportunities provided by national and local broadcasters. On Sunday March 15 for example RTE televise at 1110 a pre recorded bilingual Church of Ireland Eucharist suitable for St Patrick’s tide
  • Many parish clergy will use social media as a means of sharing short acts of worship, reflection and prayer amongst parishioners. This is to be encouraged and our Diocesan Communications Officer Margaret Hawkins is striving to form an overview of initiatives in this area
  • From next weekend and for as long as this situation continues, I intend to offer personally via YouTube and our own diocesan online platforms a short time of reflection and prayer for each Sunday that may be of some modest value around the diocese
  • Parishioners who seek individual ministry of care and prayer must never hesitate to contact their local clergy. In the midst of prevailing circumstances, appropriate ways will always be found to help people realise that they are being prayed for and cared for, that they are never on their own and that definite pastoral need will never be left unaddressed.

No doubt further reflections and ideas will be offered as the situation unfolds. Meanwhile we can but strive to mull over those familiar words which are at the heart of our faith – ‘in nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’. ( Philippians 4. 6,7)

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(Newsletter) Church of Ireland Developments (II)–prominent Anglican says the Church and Society Commission statement “makes no sense”

[The] Rev Tim Anderson was speaking after The News Letter broke the news last week that the Church and Society Commission – a body set up by the general synod – has come out in support of Northern Irish people who want to convert {same-sex] civil partnerships into fully-fledged marriages.

[The] Rev Anderson, who ministers in St Elizabeth’s, Dundonald, is Irish chairman of the conservative movement GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference).

He stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity rather than as a spokesman for the whole Gafcon movement.

He blasted the commission’s stance, saying it “assumes that there is more than one legitimate definition of marriage – a secular definition and a religious one”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, Marriage & Family

(Newsletter) Church of Ireland Developments (I)– Did the Church and Society Commission Indicate a Doctrinal Change?

Specifically the consultation (which ended on Sunday) asked the public for views on ensuring clergy are not forced to conduct…[same-sex] weddings.

One of the questions asked in the consultation was this: “Do you agree same-sex couples in NI should be permitted to convert their civil partnership to marriage?”

The reply of the CoI commission was: “Yes. If it has been decided to legalise same-sex marriage in a territory where such couples were previously only able to form civil partnerships it should be permitted for them to convert such a partnership to a marriage.”

This appears to be in radical conflict with the long-standing position of the church, which is essentially that…[same-sex] marriage is impossible by definition.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, Marriage & Family

(C of I) ‘Every voice is worth listening to’ – Faith in Democracy lecture by Bishop Rowan Williams

Setting out the stall for democracy, Bishop Williams said it was not quite as straightforward as may be imagined. We need to question why it should work and understand what it is as well as what it is not. He suggested democracy is often defined by what it is not – it is not autocracy, oligarchy or dictatorship. Democracy raises the question of what is lawful in human society and what kind of system has a proper claim on our loyalty and obedience. It also asks what it is that we can recognise that represents our voice and our interests. “Democracy may be a mess but it’s our mess. It may have strange ideas but it reflects our ideas,” he stated.

The Bishop pointed out that democracy does not happen automatically when other systems disappear, citing Iraq and Libya as examples. He said that the advance of democracy went hand in hand with certain advances in secularism but did not agree that democracy is secular. “The fundamental of democracy is that it represents who we are, what we want and what we care about. But there is a risk of populism. Is something made right by the majority vote?’ he asked.

The paradox of democracy, he contended, is that it believes that every human agent is worth listening to. But if every human agent is worth listening to, then that includes minorities as well as the majority. “Democracy is a system in which every voice has a claim to be heard. But that can be a challenge. The voices that have not prevailed are still worth listening to… We go on arguing and that is a sign that democracy is working because the minority voice is still being taken seriously,” he said. “The majority decision may be lawful but it is still up for debate… It is crucial for a democracy to be liberated from the idea that majority votes end arguments.” He added that freedom of speech must be safeguarded (with certain limits) if democracy is to be a means of change in society.

However, he said public debate does not mean that we allow our neighbour to shout for a while before taking our own turn to shout. We must recognise that the person who opposes us in an argument has goals which we can recognise as intelligible.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

Church of Ireland Guidance in relation to the Coronavirus Threat: Communion in One Kind and No passing of the Peace

2. Physical interaction during services, including the Sign of Peace, should be suspended. Clergy may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative Sign of Peace that does not involve hand contact (e.g. a smile, nod or bow) if so wished. Shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/gatherings should be suspended. Observe good hand and general hygiene – thorough hand–washing with soap or sanitisers and disposal of tissues.

3. Stay at home if you feel ill and display influenza–like symptoms. The symptoms to be aware of in the case of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and fever. Do not come to church services until you feel well.

4. The Church’s duty of care extends to members of the clergy. If you have influenza–type symptoms, do not call the clergy for pastoral visitation. Pastoral support for parishioners who are unable to attend church services should be provided by telephone or online (e.g. Skype).

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

The Diocese of Lichfield strengthens links with the Church of Ireland after Brexit

Bishop Michael and the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Dr Paul Colton, issued the following joint statement today:

“Our two dioceses are actively exploring the possibilities of exchange and a deepening of relationships not only in the context of our common membership of the Anglican Communion of Churches, but also against the backdrop of Brexit. In these days following Brexit and as the relationships between peoples on these islands unfolds anew, we believe it is important to think not only of commerce and trade, but also of what it means, in the broadest sense, to be good neighbours in this part of the world.

“Brexit was not a vote to leave Europe; it is about leaving the European Union. We are part of a larger family of Christians and we can encourage one other by learning from each other and enriching one another’s life. We will look at specific and tangible ways we can do this across our two dioceses in the coming months as our link develops.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church of Ireland

The November/December 2019 edition of the Eco-Congregation Ireland newsletter is out

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

An Irish Times Article on Archbishop Welby’s recent visit to Ireland

The leader of Anglicans worldwide, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has said he hopes the emergence of conservative Anglican body Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) will not lead to a schism.

“I hope and pray not because we are called to love one another. I value them, I talk to them, I listen to them, I’m not proud enough to think I am right and they’re all wrong,” he said at Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday night.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland, GAFCON

Archdeacon David McClay Confirmed as Bishop–designate of Down and Dromore

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(Irish Times) Recent Church of Ireland Developments (II)–Bishop-elect of Down and Dromore confirms his support for women’s ordination

In response, a Church of Ireland spokesperson last night said that Archdeacon McClay “confirmed that he supports both the ordination of women and the consecration of women as bishops and this has been borne out in practice during his ministry”.

“The election of a bishop is the outcome of a constitutional process whereby an electoral college – itself composed of elected members – elects a new bishop after a process of discernment,” said the spokesperson.

“The final step is the confirmation of the election by the House of Bishops. This is a legal process and no comment can properly be made in advance of their decision.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(Irish Times) Recent Church of Ireland Developments (I)–Senior clergy write letter of objection to election of new Bishop of Down and Dromore

Almost 40 senior Church of Ireland clergy have objected to the election of the new Bishop of Down and Dromore.

It was announced earlier this month that Archdeacon David McClay would succeed the Rt Rev Harold Miller, who retired at the end of September.

His election was announced following a meeting of the Episcopal Electoral College for the Diocese in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

However, 36 senior clergy members have signed an open letter to object to his selection due to their concerns about his involvement with a conservative Anglican group, according to the Irish Times.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(BBC) Archbishop Richard Clarke to retire as Church of Ireland’s most senior cleric

The Church of Ireland’s most senior cleric, the Most Revd Richard Clarke, has announced that he will retire in three months’ time.

The 70-year-old Dubliner has served as the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland since December 2012.

He explained that when he took the role he promised himself and his family that he would not stay in post for more than seven years.

He will mark that milestone next month and will step down on 2 February 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

Church Leaders meet Secretary of State on Northern Ireland political impasse

From here:

“As the leaders all of the main Churches in Northern Ireland, we met in Armagh last evening with the Secretary of State to highlight our strong concerns regarding the continued Stormont impasse. We discussed with him the urgent need for the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to address issues such as welfare reform mitigations, health and education policy, as well as the urgent economic and wider issues surrounding Brexit. In particular we conveyed our strongly held and shared conviction that the devolved institutions need to be restored before the 21 October to avoid unacceptably wide–ranging abortion legislation being imposed on Northern Ireland. The protection and the dignity of all human life is of vital importance, both women and unborn children – both lives matter.

“We believe that our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this. They all need to take risks, especially for the most vulnerable in society, and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions.”

Posted in Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day Adapted from the Irish Prayer Book

O Lord Jesus Christ, thou good Shepherd of the sheep, we beseech thee to be present in thy power with the missions of thy Church in this our land. Show forth thy compassion to all who are out of the way, and bring them home in safety to thy fold; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Church of Ireland, Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church of Ireland) Bishop John McDowell–An Open Letter from a Border Bishop

The Border and the problems which it poses for any form of Brexit are not only technical or technological issues. Nor are they simply issues to do with trade or security matters. Expressed in the starkest terms, the Border is the background against which all political and much cultural life in Northern Ireland (and in a more limited way in the Republic of Ireland) is worked out. Some people like the Border and others do not, but positively or negatively, consciously or unconsciously, it is pivotal to how politicians and people here assess almost all policy alternatives.

For this reason alone, any big change which has an impact on the Border is unavoidably complicated and inevitably charged with emotional and symbolic significance.

After a period of relative obscurity, it now appears that everybody is fascinated by the Border. It is interesting, for a while, to be at the centre of the world’s attention. But on the whole I think many of us would rather have been left alone.

For a political border, it is very beautiful in places. That is largely because of the hundreds of small farms looked after by hundreds of sturdy farmers along its length. There isn’t much money in it for most of them, but if you ask them why they don’t move to somewhere less difficult to farm they say “You can’t roll up the land and take it with you”. The long term well–being of men and women like these, and their neighbours all along the border, requires and deserves a clearly spelt–out, sustainable agreement between both sides. This is so that they have not only that material basis necessary for civilised living but also hope for their children’s future. Neither peace nor prosperity are possible without hope.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

Bishop Harold Miller ‘greatly disappointed’ by Westminster vote

[The recent]…vote in Westminster in relation to abortion and same–sex marriage in Northern Ireland was a great disappointment to me.

Before the vote, Bishop Ken Kearon, on behalf of the Church and Society Commission, made the Church of Ireland position on these matters clear and urged that parliament should not impose its views in areas devolved to the Assembly. Now the vote has taken place, and the amendments passed by a large majority.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

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

.

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

Archbishop Richard Clarke’s Presidential Address to the Church of Ireland General Synod

In a realm of bio–technology that already exists, we could all be equipped with sensors within our bodies that could communicate with a central database as to the details of the state of our health, even if we had not visited a doctor for years. We know that the days of driving ourselves are probably limited. A self–driving vehicle – which with sophisticated satellite navigation can recognise exactly what is going on around it – might be a great deal safer than any other mode of transport. Certainly it will not get tired at the wheel, drive at absurd speeds, drive under the influence of drink or drugs, or suffer from road rage. We could give many other examples of what is now becoming possible and will soon become commonplace. All of which means that, as time goes on, we humans will be become of less “use” for what happens around us every day. It is estimated that, in the developed world, at least one–third of current employment options will probably have gone within a very short time, perhaps a decade or little longer. In the longer term, even those functions we might regard as needing the human touch or human ingenuity will be done for the most part by clever machines, connected to extremely clever self–learning computers.

This, of course, raises many questions – economic, social and political – but not least of these, for all of us, is the most existential question of all: “What is it to be a human being?” Most of us find much of our identity – our value – in what we do, or even perhaps what we used to do. If more and more people become – in economic or even societal terms – use–less (without any obvious usefulness in any utilitarian sense), what and where is their identity? What is it to be a human person, if we are of no definable use to society? Interestingly, even those without religious faith see this as a crucial question for humankind. The Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, who has written extensively on what the future may hold for us, spends a number of weeks each year on what you and I might think of as “a retreat” – pondering and thinking about what it is to be human, although he is entirely secular in outlook and belief.

As Christian disciples, we too have to set ourselves – anew – to think through constantly about what we really are as human persons, why we are set on Earth. The question of the psalmist in Psalm 8, who asks: “What is it to be a human person, that God might be mindful of us?” This is now a question that has to be reduced to its bare bones.

God does not evaluate us in terms of our usefulness. Through grace, we each have an infinite and unique value in the eyes of God, and the call of God in Christ to us is to convey that truth to those who do not see this, or who have never had the opportunity to see it. But it is a truth we can only convey in how we love and in how we live, and in what we believe to be crucial to human living on this Earth – how we care for others (including those who are, in human terms, no “use” to us), and how we care for the creation that God has given to us to protect. We are reminded of this within the Anglican Five Marks of Mission where we are called to respond to human need by loving service and called to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the Earth. For the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ.

Read it all(emphasis mine).

Posted in Church of Ireland

Promoting vocations in the Church of Ireland

Bishop Michael Burrows chairs the Church of Ireland’s Commission on Ministry, which will be organising a Vocations Sunday across the Church this autumn (15th September). In this interview with Peter Cheney, he discusses how people sense a call into ordained ministry and the main themes of his committee’s current work as the 2019 General Synod approaches.

Listen to it all (just under 11 minutes).

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

(Irish Times) Being Anglican in Ireland can only become more difficult due to Brexit says Archbishop

In his presidential address to the Dublin and Glendalough diocesan synod in Greystones, Co Wicklow on Tuesday evening, he was referring to the removal of the Church of Ireland as the established state church of this island in 1869.

“While many still mourn the loss of establishment status, many argue that were it not for disestablishment coming historically when it did, the Anglican tradition in Ireland might have found it significantly more difficult to survive than it has done so,” he said.

“The conundrum raised by Victor Griffin, Dean of St Patrick’s of courageous and blessed memory, is something we in the Church of Ireland have never quite resolved and have rarely been able to address in an all-church way: the conundrum of being Anglican and Irish.”

It was “a religious and a psychological issue, not a political or territorial issue. I fear that this difficulty can only become more difficult in the days of Brexit,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(Irish Times) Tim Anderson responds to the Irish Allegations about Gafcon

Sir, – I was surprised to read that some clergy believe that Bishops Miller and Glenfield have broken their consecration vows by attending Gafcon III (Home News, June 25th).

If the Dean of Waterford is concerned about unity, then surely their attendance at the largest global Anglican gathering in more than 50 years, along with nearly 2,000 people from over 50 countries, representing over 70 per cent of the Anglican Communion, with the aim of Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations, should be applauded?

The Church of Ireland is part of the Anglican Communion and as such, all bishops vow to maintain unity, to guard “the faith” and “discipline of the church”, based on “God’s word written” (Article 20)….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, GAFCON

(Irish Times) Irish Bishops’ presence at Gafcon alleged to be an ‘absolute disgrace’

Attendance by two Church of Ireland bishops at the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) meeting in Jerusalem last week has provoked deep anger among the church’s clergy.

They have described it as “an absolute disgrace”, “schismatic”, and as illustrating “how utterly out of touch some senior clergy” were with church membership.

Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore and Bishop Ferran Glenfield of KilmoreElphin and Ardagh attended the meeting with other senior clergy from the Church of Ireland and members of Gafcon Ireland set up last April….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, GAFCON

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”.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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….

Read it all.

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.’

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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