23rd October 2015 – COI Gazette

WCC calls for an end to foreign military interventions in Syria

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria

In an official statement issued last week, the World Council of Churches expressed grave concern over the dramatic escalation of the conflict in Syria.

The Council expressed strong condemnation of all foreign military operations especially since hope has been raised for a political process in line with the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and approved by the UN Security Council last August.

Last week, Mr de Mistura warned that the partition of Syria was possible if the situation in the conflict- ridden country continued to deteriorate or was left in its current chaotic state, a Voice of America report indicated.

He said he considered the possible partition of Syria as one of the worst-case scenarios, adding that the major powers and Syria’s warring factions did not want this scenario to occur.

However, he also said he had noted a de facto partitioning already occurring.


The Anglican Church In North America

Over recent weeks, we have published letters on the subject of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Church of Ireland’s relationship with that Church (Gazette, 2nd, 9th & 16th October; also this week, page 10). ACNA came into being as a denomination in 2009, in particular following disagreement over the theological direction of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States. It is probably fair to say that both ACNA and TEC would describe each other as ‘breakaway’, ACNA taking the view that TEC had departed from orthodox Anglican teaching, especially over human sexuality, and TEC taking the view that ACNA had separated itself. One could debate that particular question until the proverbial cows come home.

Last month, the Gazette asked the Church of Ireland for an indication as to whether or not it is in communion with ACNA. We published the response in our issue of 2nd October and do so again here for the sake of convenience: “As a Province of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Ireland is in communion with the other Churches or Provinces in the Communion. There has not been a definitive position taken by the Church of Ireland in respect of any Church that has emerged from structural changes or divisions in another Church or Province in the Communion – as in the case of the Anglican Church in North America and The Episcopal Church. Following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a gathering of Primates in January 2016, it seems likely that a period of discernment will ensue to determine the ways in which Churches within the Anglican Communion and other Churches in an Anglican tradition relate to one another and that this is likely to take considerable time.”

However, as has been pointed out in the correspondence we have published, the Preamble and Declaration adopted by the Church of Ireland’s General Convention in 1870 – sometimes known as the ‘title deeds’ of the Church of Ireland – do not define the Churches with which we are in communion in terms of an Anglican Communion; the first

Lambeth Conference was held only in 1867. It is therefore somewhat surprising that, in this matter, the Church of Ireland has taken a notably hesitant view in its statement to the Gazette as quoted above. At Section III in the Preamble and Declaration (Book of Common Prayer 2004, pages 776f) it is stated: “The Church of Ireland will maintain communion with the sister Church of England, and with all other Christian Churches agreeing in the principles of this Declaration; and will set forward, so far as in it lieth, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people.”

It certainly would seem from its Theological Statement (http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/about-acna) that ACNA is indeed in agreement with the principles of the Church of Ireland’s 1870 Declaration and it would therefore seem to follow that we are committed to maintaining communion with ACNA. Indeed, in 2009 the Primates of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans actually recognized ACNA as a Province of the Anglican Communion and it is surely significant that the Archbishop of Canterbury has invited ACNA’s Archbishop Foley Beach to be present for part of the January 2016 Primates’ Meeting.

There are, however, certain questions that do need to be considered, for example: what are the implications of our having been a member of the Anglican Communion over so many years since the Declaration? How does Church practice over many years bear upon historic statements? What is our relationship with other Churches claiming Anglican heritage, such as the Church of England in South Africa, the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Free Church of England?

Another aspect of this subject lies in precisely what is meant by being ‘in communion’. The way in which the term has been approached over the past century or so does seem by today’s experience to be somewhat overly juridical in nature. In terms of the relationships between the Churches, we now live in increasingly dynamic times.

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Letters to the Editor

The Anglican Church in North America

WITH ALL the flap recently in the Gazette’s letters pages concerning Anglicanism in the United States, one might well be left wondering who we are actually in communion with.

The fact is that the Church of Ireland is in communion with The Episcopal Church (TEC).

However, going by some of the responses, it seems quite a number would prefer to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) instead.

Perhaps someday soon everyone will get their wish in a partial way, with one part of the Church of Ireland in communion with TEC, and the other in communion with the ACNA – but, sadly, neither of those two parts in communion with each other.

Patrick G. Burke (The Revd) – The Rectory Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny

WHILE THERE is talk of Anglican orthodoxy in the Gazette’s letters pages, it would also be good to reflect on the genius of Anglicanism.

Within our many shortcomings as a Church lies the Gospel imperative to be one, and that the world may know we are his disciples not by our being right, but by our love.

This was something profoundly noted by Archbishop Ramsey who wrote that “the Anglican Church is committed not to a vague position wherein the Evangelical and the Catholic views are alternatives, but to the Scriptural faith wherein both elements are one”.

In the issue of human sexuality before the Church, we begin by asserting that we are one and are committed to those for whom there is anguish felt: the anguish of those who feel the tenets of their faith are  undermined and those who feel their humanity is; those who believe that something needs to held firmly and those who believe, as Edith Stein did, that “… the anguish in our neighbour’s soul must break all precept”.

What appears clear is the need for the genius of Anglicanism to emerge, to find a way, a mechanism even, for that reality to be acknowledged without the need for one to overcome the other.

Again, as people argue, the right to reserve and police a single meaning is prevalent. John Henry Newman wrote: “The all-wise, all-knowing God cannot speak without meaning many things at once.”

In this diversity in unity we are called to see those who hold different views as not operating outside the Gospel or Scripture but as living out their engagement with these. “The Actions of the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory” (cf. Letter of the Revd Dr Alan McCann, Gazette, 9th October) is a title Trollope would have been proud of. They are, however, born from a deep, humane and Gospel-inspired faith.

Those of us who are in these dioceses know only too well the compassionate, enabling and profoundly Christian actions of ourBishop.

Let us then, as one, pray for the path ahead and stop deciding who may walk on it, or where it is going.

“Come, follow me” does not have coordinates but it does give us our unity as fellow disciples and pilgrims.

Paul R. Draper (The Very Revd) The Deanery The Mall Lismore Co. Waterford

The State of the Church of Ireland

I FEEL obliged to write and highlight the connection between the various letters in the Gazette of 16th October.

These letters were grouped under two separate titles, ‘The Anglican Church in North America’ and ‘The State of the Church of Ireland’, but I believe that they could easily all belong to the latter category, ‘The State of the Church of Ireland’.

The Church’s polity, originally spoken of by Mr Moreton and then referred to rather dismissively by Mr Dinsmore (note the tell-tale quotes “Church’s polity”), is the operational and governance structure of our Church and it is what defines us and our relationships with other Churches.

Ignoring who we are leads directly to the situation described so sadly in the letter by Mr Clark who finds himself in what he calls a “liturgical wilderness” on the Ards Peninsula.

In 2002, just before I went into the Theological College (as it was then called), I was warned by a since deceased clergyman to “avoid the Northerners as they are all Baptists in the wrong Church”. Happily, that was not my experience then, but I am now beginning to see what he might have been trying to warn me about just over a decade ago.

Elaine Murray (The Revd) – The Rectory Church Road Carrigaline Co. Cork

Gazette columnists

WHAT A loss Alison Rooke’s wonderful articles will be to the Gazette. I, with countless others no doubt, have enjoyed her thought-provoking articles often with an underlying personal twist and often also something to make me smile! So, thanks to Alison and best wishes for a well-deserved rest.
Having already read Moira Thom’s interesting article (Gazette, 9th October), I am in no doubt we have secured the services of a worthy successor.

Gordon Speers BEM – Portadown Co. Armagh BT62

Ordinations to the Diaconate

IT IS with some interest that I have noticed recent pictures of ordinations to the Diaconate which carry the caption ‘Ordination as Deacon Interns’. Surely a person is ordained a Deacon, to serve as an intern?
Is it any wonder that the laity might be confused!
Peter Rutherford (The Revd) – The Rectory Laytown Road Julianstown Co. Meath

Note: The term ‘Deacon Intern’ is the term we have received from the Church of Ireland along with photographs, with the exception of Cork, Cloyne and Ross requesting that we use the term ‘Deacon’. – Editor


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