COI Gazette – 11th September 2015

Archbishops of Armagh and Canterbury speak out on migrant crisis

Irish Naval personnel rescuing migrants last June in the Mediterranean as part of Operation Triton (Photo: Irish Defence Forces)

Irish Naval personnel rescuing migrants last June in the Mediterranean as part of Operation Triton (Photo: Irish Defence Forces)

In separate statements last week on the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, the Archbishops of Armagh and Canterbury, the Most Revds Richard Clarke and Justin Welby, expressed their concern.

Dr Clarke said that the “growing intensity” of the refugee crisis and its human cost was becoming more and more distressing each day.

He added: “No one, especially those who have or have had the care of children, could fail to be utterly moved by the harrowing images which have emerged from Turkey, alongside the constant stream of media images of suffering families and individuals. This is a heart- rending situation involving real people not statistics.”

Considering the best response to the situation, Dr Clarke said that while it was “vital to ensure that leaders work strategically to resolve political problems at their source – in the countries where people are fleeing from, and while recognising how extraordinarily difficult that may be – we need to look for both political and humanitarian solutions”.



Last week, Church leaders, including the Archbishops of Armagh and Canterbury, expressed the depth of their concern in relation to the continuing migrant crisis in Europe. Both Archbishop Clarke and Archbishop Welby pointed to the humanitarian crisis and its underlying causes (report, page 1). This latter point in particular was also made by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, a frequent commentator on current affairs, who called for more “strategic attention” to be paid to tackling the problem at its source, noting that much of the problem had arisen because of “Western military intervention in places that have now collapsed into violence”.

Interior ministers of the EU states are due to meet on 14th September to confer on what has been an escalating crisis, with fatal consequences for all too many. Last week’s image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body being carried by a police officer from a Turkish beach, after his death along with his brother, Galip, and their mother in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Greece, was shocking in the extreme. It is estimated that some 200,000 people like them have entered Greece alone this year.

The interior ministers will have to grapple with many contentious issues, including arguments over freedom of movement within the EU, debates on quotas, the application of the ‘Dublin Regulation’ (requiring the country where asylum-seekers first arrive to process their claims), policies in relation to areas of conflict from which refugees and asylum-seekers are fleeing, and a rise in nationalism across the EU. What truly is needed so urgently is an agreement on how to cope with the crisis events in terms of people actually arriving day by day in the EU as refugees and asylum-seekers by whatever means, as well as agreement on how to tackle the disastrous situations from which they are trying to escape.
Last June, the Conference of European Churches issued a statement on the subject of external borders of the EU, especially in the Mediterranean area, aptly commencing with a quotation from the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (13: 2) CEC went on to express its deep concern about the repeated loss of life that had already then been seen in the Mediterranean, deploring the fact that, “for over two decades, tens of thousands of migrants have drowned in their attempts to reach safety or find a more dignified life in Europe”. The regional ecumenical organisation, of which the Church of Ireland is a full member, noted how conflicts “on the doorsteps of Europe” had led to an increasing number of migrants fleeing within and beyond their region and also drew attention to the “shameful” acts of people traffickers.

We are very grateful to Torsten Moritz, Executive Secretary of the Brussels-based Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, for his comments by telephone to the Gazette last week, highlighting certain priority areas for the Churches in the ongoing migrant crisis, in addition to prayer for those caught up in the tragic circumstances: first, that Churches should provide “a space for welcome” to refugees, in tandem and co-operation with State initiatives; second, that the Churches should similarly find ways of enabling refugees to meet with resident populations “to overcome fears” and any general lack of communication; and third, that Churches should hold governments to account in terms of their responsibilities and in particular in terms of providing “decent reception standards” for refugees throughout Europe. The Churches indeed have a responsibility to follow through these priorities so succinctly set out by Dr Moritz.

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Letters to the Editor

Bible, Prayer Book and visiting book

I WISH to endorse the words of Dean V.G.B. Griffin in his letter of 14th August.

The excellent ‘Figures in Church History’ Gazette editorials recently have included Richard Hooker, Thomas Cranmer and the Caroline Divines, John Cosin, John Bramhall and Jeremy Taylor.

These men fought hard to preserve Anglican polity within the framework of The Book of Common Prayer in an age of Puritanism, when to do so was costly, even to the point of imprisonment and painful martyrdom.

Indeed, much of the authorship of the BCP is to be credited to them – a priceless heritage which, if we abandon, we become a sect.

There is a lot of emphasis nowadays on forming teams in parishes and arranging all sorts of activities to encourage growth, to increase numbers, quantity at the expense of quality, to mess about with the sacred liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer, to turn churches into cinemas by erecting huge screens to entertain people, to quote HRH Prince Charles, like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved friend, and so on and on.
All these activities, however well intentioned, are no substitute for the parish priest reading the Bible, reading the Daily Office, going about the parish, knocking on the doors and, above all, caring pastorally for the bereaved, the sick and dying.

What better form of evangelism could there possibly be? It can never go out of date. That said, however, we can be thankful that most clergy are still faithful to the liturgy of this part of the Church Catholic, and go about their duties faithfully.

It may be true that parishes where such entertainment is provided at the expense of decent and time-honoured BCP Liturgy are growing in numbers, but are they growing in quality? I would prefer any day to have 50 faithful BCP Anglicans in church worshipping Almighty God with reverence and awe, to 500 people waving their arms in the air and jigging about, doing, as T. S. Eliot said, “the right thing for the wrong reason”.

The bishops should hold to account clergy who abandon the BCP, do not robe for services, and make it up as they go along, leaving out canticles and so on,
responsible for their behaviour, even if necessary in the ecclesiastical courts.

Diocesan Registrars have to oversee the making of solemn declarations by those being ordained and instituted to parishes, which include vows to adhere to The Book of Common Prayer and none other except as shall be authorised by the bishop. That authority can only be exercised in very limited circumstances.

However, having made such declarations, many of those who make them in the presence of the Bishop and churchwardens suffer immediately from amnesia. Many people in the Church of Ireland are very concerned about all this.

Bible, Prayer Book, visiting book – if this is neglected, then the door is open for all sorts of sects to take our place and, maybe even in a hundred years, the call of the imam will have replaced the church bell in our towns and villages.

David W. T. Crooks (Canon) Taughboyne Rectory, Co. Donegal

IN REPLY to the Revd Malcolm Kingston (Letter, 28th August), I was not offering a critique of the present clergy and their pastoral ministry in my letter (14th August), but simply a warning not to put our trust and time in modern means of communication.

There is really no substitute for personal visitation, especially to bring in lapsed and nominal church members – as the election canvassers and sects, particularly on new housing estates, have so amply demonstrated.

The Presbyterian General Assembly issued a similar warning last year.

I knew instinctively that my criticism of the new Book of Common Prayer would evoke a critical response from my controversial friend, Canon Michael Kennedy (Letter, 28th August).

I can assure Canon Kennedy that, during my time as Dean and Ordinary of St Patrick’s, whenever the occasion required a liturgical variation, this was always done in complete conformity to the Canons of the Church of Ireland (e.g. Canon 6).

Although not having ever lived in a glasshouse, I freely admit to having thrown many stones over many years in defence of the Church of Ireland against those who would diminish or, indeed, demolish our work and witness in Ireland.

Victor G. Griffin (The Very Revd) Limavady BT49


Studying the Bible in the original languages

ST GEORGE’s parish, Belfast, would like it to be known that it is starting a group to study the Bible in its original languages.

The first meeting of this group will be on 29th September at 2.00pm in the Sunday School Room of the Church.

We will begin with St Mark’s Gospel and will study Chapter 1 on the first occasion. We will use the commentary by Cranfield.

We would like to open this group to all who are interested in this kind of study, and especially
to those who are not members of St George’s.

If any person would like to come, but cannot manage this date or time, please send an email to Douglas McIldoon (douglasmcildoon@phonecoop. coop) and let him know the time and date that would suit best. William Odling-Smee

(The Revd) St George’s Church High Street Belfast BT1 2AG


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