COI Gazette – 12th September 2014

Canon Kenneth Kearon to be next Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe

Bishop Elect Kenneth Kearon

Bishop Elect Kenneth Kearon

Canon Kenneth Kearon was elected on Monday 8th September as the next Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, in succession to Bishop Trevor Williams who retired on 31st July.
The Episcopal Electoral College met in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Canon Kearon has been Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion since 2005, serving alongside two Archbishops of Canterbury – Archbishops Rowan Williams and Justin Welby.
His post involved extensive travel throughout the Anglican Communion and he is consequently a well-known figure across the Communion.

He has led the London- based Anglican Communion Office through challenging times, having supported several Anglican Consultative Council meetings, Primates’ Meetings and the 2008 Lambeth Conference.



Christianity & Religion

Speaking at the Bishop’s Bible Week in Down and Dromore last week (report, page 3), the Revd Simon Genoe, Vicar at Lisburn Cathedral, contrasted true worship with religion, and did so in quite stark and provocative terms: “True worship stands in total contrast to religion because what religion says is that I turn up here and I join in this ceremony and I go home and I’m okay. But true worship stands in total contrast to that.” He characterised the “religious mindset” as “we do what we have to do”.

However, he also referred to Martin Luther as having observed that “religion that costs nothing, that risks nothing, is worth nothing”, and perhaps in making this allusion Mr Genoe was intimating that in fact there is such a thing as worthy religion – that is, religion that is practised in a way that ‘costs’ and in which the religious person does take risks for Christ. Indeed, overstatement was a technique that our Lord himself used in order to drive home a point.

There can be no doubt that, in fact, Christianity is a religion and it therefore follows that the authentically Christian person is appropriately described as a religious person. However, religion contains within itself many dangers, not least among which is a tendency, to which some may succumb, simply to ‘go through the motions’ and not to allow the Christian faith actually to have any meaningful bearing on one’s life, thus rejecting any
‘cost’. However, the Christian religion does not have to be so, and certainly is not always so, but here indeed lies a very real danger.

These themes are reminiscent of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s concept of religionless Christianity and of his book, The Cost of Discipleship. The idea of religionless Christianity no doubt was deeply influenced by the Church’s role in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer’s biographer, Charles Marsh, has written that the “rickety scaffolding of Protestantism had tumbled finally to the ground in the wake of the German Church’s complicity with the Nazis” (Strange Glory, SPCK, 2014, p. 367). Such complicity spoke of the utter failure of institutional religion. Bonhoeffer, of course, was one of the founders of the underground Confessing Church, and paid for his fidelity to Christ with his own life when he was hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp. For him, obedience to God was at the heart of being a true disciple.

Yet, as the World Council of Churches would later assert (Faith and Order Paper 37), institutionalism is an inevitable part of life and it certainly is the case that the Church of Ireland is a religious institution. As such, it is of immense worth to the people of Ireland, but also, as such, it must be aware of the deep dangers in ‘religion as institution’. There is a cost – at times, a great cost – in being faithful, whether as individuals or as an institution.


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