COI Gazette – 13th January 2017

Anglican Communion Secretary-General rebuffed by GAFCON’s Dr Peter Jensen over Gazette interview comments

Dr Peter Jensen (Photo: D. Jenkins)

Dr Peter Jensen (Photo: D. Jenkins)

Dr Peter Jensen, the General Secretary of the traditionalist Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which is an ongoing movement, has issued a point-by-point rebuttal of comments which Anglican Communion Secretary-General Archbishop Josiah Idowu- Fearon made in an exclusive Gazette interview published in our issue of 16th December last (full audio at https://gazette. 67-archbishop-josiah-idowu- fearon).

A former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Jensen is a driving force behind GAFCON, seeking to bring a renewal of traditional theological and moral values to Anglicanism, especially in the context of human sexuality issues.

Dr Jensen’s response to what were very forthright comments by Archbishop Idowu-Fearon came in an article published online by GAFCON on 31st December (see blog/is-gafcon-the-problem).




TÉ Business Editor David Murphy, who along with the Irish Independent columnist’s Martina Devlin co-authored the book, Banksters, on the events surrounding the near collapse of Ireland’s banking system, commented shortly before Christmas that amid all the accountancy and legal arguments surrounding Apple’s tax liability, or otherwise, to the Republic of Ireland, there is the plain moral issue: “Is it acceptable that the world’s most valuable company by market capitalisation is paying minuscule amounts of tax?”

He noted how the legal battle between Brussels and Dublin over Apple’s tax arrangements had intensified with the European Commission’s final report on its ruling that the company paid far less in tax than it should and he pointed out that Apple has “two subsidiaries in Ireland which had no physical presence and no employees”, with one of them showing a $25bn profit in 2014 while it paid less than $10m in tax. While the European Commission holds that up to €13bn is due to Dublin from Apple, Mr Murphy indicated that the government is insisting that the amount “is not attributable to the company’s activities in Ireland”.

Commenting on the case last August, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Member States cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules. The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years. In fact, this selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005 per cent in 2014.”

According to a Guardian report of 19th December, Ms Vestager has indicated that the amount Brussels holds is owed to Dublin could be reduced if the two companies were required to pay larger amounts of money to their US parent company, adding that other countries, in the EU or elsewhere, looking at the EU investigation, might conclude
that Apple “should have recorded its sales in those countries instead of Ireland”, for that reason requiring Apple to pay more tax locally. “That would reduce the amount to be paid back to Ireland,” Ms Vestager said.

The newspaper continued by reporting that as Apple announced plans to lodge its appeal to the EU ruling, it accused European regulators of “a political crusade against a successful American company”, while Ms Vestager insisted that the EU was standing its ground, stating: “This decision sends a clear message: member states cannot give unfair tax benefits to selected companies. No matter if they are European or foreign, large or small, part of a group or not.” Moreover, RTÉ reported on 21st December that the European Court of Justice had ruled in favour of the European Commission on an issue involving tax concessions for a group of companies, including Santander Bank, which is seen to have an important bearing on the Irish case.

At least two aspects of this imbroglio highlighted by Mr Murphy, which are clearly of moral significance, are the question as to why the Irish government should sit back and allow other governments potentially to claim part of the tax which Brussels says is due, when it could come to Ireland, and that, irrespective of where the profits should be taxed, “Apple and many other multinationals have paid far less tax than they should”. He concludes: “That has short-changed taxpayers somewhere. Huge sums which could be used for building schools, roads or hospitals have remained under the control of a multinational.”

With some 7,000 people reported as homeless in the Republic and with no end of good things that could be accomplished with the equivalent of €13bn, the government, beyond insisting on its right to run its own affairs – which is a questionable assumption within the EU context – needs to be clearer as to why it is not pressing for the tax that the EU is clear is owed to the country.


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Letter to the Editor

Same-sex relationships

SCOTT GOLDEN (Letters, 23rd December) quotes the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 statement that there is “no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed”.

The College made a similar argument to the Pilling working group (Pilling Report para. 215), but Pilling said that “ … this does not mean that we have evidence that [therapy] does not work. We simply do not know … ” (216).

The report (199) also said: “Is sexual attraction fixed and immutable? A representative study carried out in New Zealand, supported by other studies undertaken elsewhere and large amounts of anecdotal evidence, seems to indicate that for some people sexual attraction can and does change so that they move from being ‘gay’ to being ‘straight’ and vice versa. So, at least for some people, sexual attraction is not immutable.”

In April 2014, after the Pilling Report was published, the Royal College quietly issued a new position statement which said: “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent during a person’s life.”

In The Times on 17th December 2016, Matthew Parris wrote: “I know very well there are gay men for whom life is not so easy, and some whose sexuality is a source of torment.”

Such tormented people are denied therapeutic help today if they want to move, in Pilling’s words, “from being ‘gay’ to being ‘straight’” – even if this might enable them to rebuild their shattered families.

Any therapist assisting them towards this laudable goal will be struck off by his or her professional body. This is a grave injustice on which the Church must not remain silent.

Dermot O’Callaghan Hillsborough, Co. Down


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