COI Gazette – 10 April 2015

Human trafficking tops the agenda at the ICC’s Annual Meeting


The main focus was on the challenge of human trafficking when the Irish Council of Churches (ICC) gathered on 26th March for its Annual Meeting at the Salvation Army’s church complex at Sydenham, Belfast.

On a day which brought together over 100 delegates from the Churches’ leadership, senior clergy and lay people from across the island of Ireland, Major Anne Read, Anti-Human Trafficking Response Coordinator for the Salvation Army, gave a keynote address focusing attention on this form of modern-day slavery.

Major Read spoke powerfully about the “dehumanisation of people today across the world and in our own communities in the UK and Ireland”.




The Wealth of the Mines

The involvement of Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, in a mining operation in Haiti has become a subject of controversy in the United States as Mrs Clinton considers running for the Presidency next year. Mr Rodham’s involvement in the gold mine came to light last month, The Washington Post reported, when it was publicly stated that in 2013 he had been added to the advisory board of the company that owns the mine. The newspaper also indicated what is no doubt a significant problem: the Morne Bossa mine is itself a source of controversy in Haiti because of concern about potential environmental damage and the belief that the project will primarily benefit foreign investors.

If one winds the clock back to January 2014, Christian Aid was then highlighting concern surrounding deals struck between the Haitian government and US and Canadian mining companies over the country’s estimated £12bn gold, silver and copper deposits.

Winding the clock further back, in 2012, Haiti’s Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, said that mining minerals discovered in the north of the country could help Haiti rebuild following the 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000, and hasten an end to dependency on foreign aid, Christian Aid stated. However, the organisation also indicated that, two years later, Christian Aid Haiti country manager, Prospery Raymond, was saying that lack of transparency over contracts was giving rise to fears that the Haitian people may see little benefit from the mineral wealth.

Stressing the need for transparency, Mr Raymond said: “Haiti must learn from the mistakes made by many other countries that struggle to get mining companies to pay their fair share in taxes, including those in Latin America and the Caribbean, and not submit to  the scandal of inequality. The most important lesson is that companies and governments behave better when they know that everyone can find out about the level of payments they are making to governments. Transparency helps to reduce opportunities for tax evasion and corruption. It is crucial.”

For reasons such as these, the issue of mining and the environment was a key one at a 27th March side- event during last month’s World Social Forum meeting in Tunis. The World Council of Churches reported: “Church representatives stressed that mining projects often hamper the well-being and sustainability of local communities, noting the need to find new alternatives to extraction as a development paradigm … The discussion at the Churches’ side-event, titled ‘The Christian Church and Mining’, underlined how several countries, especially in Latin America, are increasingly witnessing the negative impacts of mining projects.

“According to several reports, these projects have harmed the health and the sources of sustenance of people in mining areas. In response to this situation, since 2013, the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Church groups in Latin America have worked together to support communities resisting large-scale mining, promoting the protection of vulnerable communities and working together to find alternatives to extraction.”

It is very much to be welcomed that the Churches are taking this issue to heart and are giving it as much profile as possible. The environment and local people’s rights may be seen by some as a purely political matter but, on the contrary, such concerns are very much concerns for the Churches as they seek to promote justice and respect for the created order itself.



Home News

  • International Community Mothers’ Union inaugurated in Dublin
  • New RE website launched for Armagh primary school teachers
  • Information evening for those considering pastoral visiting
  • Youth Update Engage Youth Council – plugging into the power of prayer
  • Former Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver lecture in St George’s, Belfast
  • Tribute – Canon Robert (Bob) Doogan Wright
  • Capture Church of Ireland life in action in new CCB photography competition



  • Musings – Easter bonnets and seeing clearly
  • American View: ISIS versus the West – A clash of civilizations? By John Farmer


World News

  • South Kordofan, Sudan: ‘Peace is our only option’
  • Contemporary South African art features Desmond Tutu
  • Mainline US Protestants solidify gay marriage support
  • Despite rising anti-Semitism, Jews thrive in central Europe
  • Death penalty ‘fosters vengeance’ – Pope Francis
  • WCC commission prepares for next World Mission Conference
  • WCC pays tribute to the life and witness of late General Secretary Philip Potter


Letters to the Editor

BACI Lent course on sexuality

IN COMMON with other Church of Ireland parishes, I used the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland (BACI) Lenten course, entitled ‘Same- sex issues and the Bible’, here in my own parish. It seems timely to record some of the feedback received on utilizing this particular course here.

The attendance was higher than usual for Lenten courses. The course also attracted participants from the wider, local Christian community.

Whilst participants included those with differing perspectives on the particular study topic, the response and disposition of all the participants reflected that essential attitude of listening and discernment which both our Archbishops had initially called for, when using the course.

Regarding the five-week study course itself, both the five external – and, I should add, very well theologically qualified – facilitators and the participants themselves felt that the BACI team had produced a course that was very well researched, fair and balanced.

One example of this was how a ‘traditionalist reading’ of a particular Bible passage was placed alongside ‘another reading’ of that same Bible passage.

So, I feel much credit is due to the course’s compilers for their scholarly, even- handed and honest approach to the demanding task they undertook.

It could surely enhance the working of General Synod to know that all General Synod members, for example, had the opportunity to study this particular Lenten course, and in that specific contextual spirit of listening and discernment.

Whenever the Church has to address divisive issues within its own constituency, I have long believed that its greatest challenge is always how it continues to give overriding priority to its own essential unity as the body of Christ – whilst, at the same time, working through how it can best integrate and ultimately reconcile, under God’s Holy Spirit, whatever it is that divides.

Horace McKinley (Canon) Whitechurch Vicarage Whitechurch Road Dublin 16

Irish Heart Foundation

THIS HAPPY HEART WEEKEND – 7th, 8th and 9th May – the Irish Heart Foundation is looking for local heart heroes to donate an hour or two of their time to help us sell our ‘happy heart’ badges for €2 in local communities and be part of this special heart appeal running more than 25 years.

Many people do not realise that every hour a life is lost to heart disease and stroke in Ireland – it’s the number one killer in Ireland today. Yet four out of five deaths are preventable.

At the Irish Heart Foundation, we believe that ‘every heart counts’ and by volunteering this May, your readers can help keep more hearts beating, maybe even help someone they know.

Every €2 raised goes to fund life-changing research,
prevention and care to make life better for Irish families in the fight against heart disease and stroke.

How you can get involved:

• Volunteer to sell ‘happy heart’ badges in your local community

• Organise an event at home or in work – host a coffee morning or a ‘wear red’ day

• Share your heart or stroke story

All we need … a couple of hours of your time, your smiling face and your Happy Heart!

To get involved email: or call us on tel. 01-668 5001.

We’d love to hear from you.

Siobhan Hanley Head of Fundraising

Irish Heart Foundation 50 Ringsend Road Dublin 4

General Synod Holy Communion

I AM, at last, thrilled to read in the Standing Committee News (Gazette, 20th March) that General Synod in Armagh in May this year will start with a service of Holy Communion.

My eyes have longed to see this day again. I pleaded for it for some years when a member of Synod.

While I will not be present in person, I will be in spirit.

God bless the Church of Ireland,on the right way again.

George P. Hilliard (Canon)  13 Rose Lane Botesdale, Suffolk IP22 1DJ


News Extra

  • St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, embraces new tourism technology
  • Seminar on church care and sources of funding
  • Franciscan retreat on creation
  • New CIYD space and offices ‘a resource for the whole island’