COI Gazette – 13th December 2013

Archbishop Clarke has high praise for Centre for Celtic Spirituality at Armagh

Archbishop Richard Clarke with the Revd Grace Clunie outside the Navan Centre near Armagh. The Centre for Celtic Spirituality is at the Navan Centre.

Archbishop Richard Clarke with the Revd Grace Clunie outside the Navan Centre near Armagh. The Centre for Celtic Spirituality is at the Navan Centre.

Archbishop Richard Clarke with the Revd Grace Clunie outside the Navan Centre near Armagh. The Centre for Celtic Spirituality is at the Navan Centre.

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Richard Clarke, has told the Gazette that he can “thoroughly commend” the Centre for Celtic Spirituality at the Navan Centre just outside Armagh City.

He described the Centre, one of the directors of which is the Revd Grace Clunie of Armagh Diocese, as “a wonderful resource”.

Dr Clarke said that the Centre, which is organised by Christians of different traditions, was “well worth getting to know”, having recently made what he described as “an informative and enjoyable visit which enabled me to see the work being undertaken”.



The death of Nelson Mandela last week at the age of 95 brought to an end the earthly life of one who made a deep impression on the whole world. Mandela was, and remains, a global figure associated with the cause of justice itself. The ending of South Africa’s apartheid system, the campaign against which he led, was nothing less than a crowning moment in the history of humanity. The Freedom Charter, as adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955, states: “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.”

The struggle for freedom led, in 1962, to Mandela being imprisoned for inciting strikes and leaving the country without permission, but in 1964 he was further sentenced to life imprisonment on four counts of sabotage and treason, although he did not accept all the charges. That – and the rest – is, indeed, history.

As for apartheid itself, in 1977 the Lutheran World Federation Assembly declared that “… the situation in southern Africa constitutes a status confessionis. This means that, on the basis of faith and in order to manifest the unity of the church, churches should publicly and unequivocally reject the existing apartheid system”. Following this, and strenuous efforts to persuade for change, the LWF in 1984 suspended the membership of two white South African Lutheran Churches. The concept of status confessionis, which goes back to the Lutheran ‘Formula of Concord’ in the 16th century (although not accepted by all Lutherans), refers to a threat to the essential truth of the Gospel; the Barmen Declaration in 1934 – a statement of the Confessing Church, distinguishing it from so called Nazi ‘German Christianity’ – was an earlier reaction to the issue. As for Anglicans, it is well known that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was another of the most vocal opponents of apartheid.

Yet, Nelson Mandela was not only a liberator but also a unifier: freedom and unity are inter-related themes and he championed them both in his native land. In his tribute to Mandela, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Olav Fyske Tveit, has described the former’s relationship with the WCC as having been “special”, recalling Mandela’s visit to the WCC ’s Geneva headquarters in 1990 soon after his release from prison, when he expressed his gratitude for the Churches’ support for the anti-apartheid struggle. Then, addressing the WCC ’s 8th Assembly in Harare, in 1998, Mandela was recalled by Tveit as again having praised the Churches’ efforts against apartheid, as well as missionaries for bringing high standards of education to Africa from which he said he himself, as a child, had benefited.

Nelson Mandela brought great dignity to his people and by his tireless efforts truly brought freedom and much joy to a suffering and distracted world.


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