Christian Aid and Limerick University’s Peace and Development Centre tackle ‘land grabbing’ issue
Is it really possible that a family could be brutally and violently evicted from their own land – land on which their family had lived for generations? Is it really possible that governments could do this to their own citizens? Is it really possible that this could happen so that Europeans could drive more supposedly ‘fuel efficient’ cars?
Unfortunately, it seems it is and, in order to respond better to the situation, Christian Aid Ireland and the Centre of Peace and Development at the University of Limerick brought together activists and academics from some of the countries most affected by land grabs in a two-day seminar on 4th and 5th June.
The seminar heard how, at great personal risk, civil society movements around the world are resisting. Human rights defenders are refusing to let violence and pillage win the day.
From 17th-18th June, the heads of government from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – joined by the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council – will meet as the G8 in Co. Fermanagh.
One might well ask precisely what the point is of all the expense and trouble just to get these leaders together for such a short time. Perhaps one answer is that such a meeting is about setting out aims and objectives in a more informal setting than mostly is the case for political gatherings. That, in itself, is a good thing because there needs to be vision in political life – it cannot be only about day-to-day affairs and crisis management. Yet, if this is the ultimate aim of such a gathering as that of the G8, it is important to have the right vision and to have a sense of the right direction.
This is, no doubt, where different political perspectives come into play, but it is also where the Churches, as institutions that look not only beyond political life but also beyond the many limitations of this world to the greater Kingdom of God, can have a real and moral input. For that reason, the fact that the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland seized the moment to make a very considered contribution in the context of the upcoming summit is to be welcomed, as is the energy behind the wider IF campaign (see pages 8 and 9 respectively).
In the vast world of international life and politics, such a gathering as the G8 summit will have to have a clear focus and Prime Minister David Cameron, as 2013 President of the G8 and host to the Fermanagh event, has set out three major objectives: advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency. In a 13th May article in the Wall Street Journal, sounding a welcome note of warning and of good vision, he wrote that as the world economy was freed up, it had to be made sure that openness “delivers the benefits it should for rich economies and developing countries alike”, adding: “That means consistent and fair rules for the global economy. When countries open up to cross-border trade, and global supply chains, they need to know that they will see the benefits in jobs, fair tax revenues and economic growth. So we need global rules that prevent tax evasion and aggressive avoidance, and enable governments to collect the taxes they are owed.”
It is to be hoped that the Fermanagh G8 will be a moment of taking decisive direction, not least towards the goal of the IF campaign, a hunger-free world, and towards a real end of the iniquity of tax evasion.
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Letters to the Editor
The General Synod
I READ with interest the letter of the Revd Stanley Monkhouse (Gazette, 24th May) regarding the point of spending money on General Synod prizes for media.
As a parish magazine editor for two different parishes in two different dioceses, I have produced 220 issues. This is my way of giving my time and talents to God’s service – I don’t count up the hours that I collect the information, type up all the issues, lay out the magazine, drive to the parish photocopier, copying, collating, folding, stapling, bringing to the churches, delivering, posting, etc.
I have been honoured to have been presented with awards by two different Primates, Archbishops Eames and Harper, along with some from the Religious Press Association, and I know that, thanks to the postmen/women and school, the parish newsletter now gets into each home every two months.
The prizes don’t break the bank, but are a great encouragement for this very vital work in the life of the Church. I am delighted that my successor to my first parish newsletter won the award this year. We both live in Naas and receive each other’s magazines.
So that is two friends, being presented with awards by three Primates for parish newsletters – surely some kind of a record!
Lilian Webb (Mrs) Naas Co. Kildare
THE LETTER by the Revd Stanley Monkhouse regarding the General Synod (Gazette, 24th May) saddened me because of both its content and character.
The issues raised are important, but the perfunctory manner in which they were addressed revealed not just a lack of sensitivity but also a lack of knowledge relating to what has already been done to address these issues.
Unless I am mistaken, Dr Monkhouse has lately arrived from the Church of England. While many immigrants from across the Irish Sea have greatly enriched the life of the Church of Ireland, some others fall into the category reflected in the words of the famous Irish song: ‘The strangers came to try and teach us their ways, and blame us just for being what we are.’ I write as one whose vocation was nurtured in one of those Co. Laois churches which your correspondent would probably close. To speak of closure reveals a remarkable naïvety.
Roy Warke (The Rt Revd) Naas Co. Kildare
C. of I./Methodist interchangeability of ministries
I HAVE read with great interest Canon David Crooks’ letter about the ministries of the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church (Gazette, 24th May). While I fully agree with it, there are a few matters I feel could be added.
The doctrine of the Sacred Ministry is clearly found (inter alia) in the Book of Common Prayer 2004, and in particular in the Preface to the Ordinal (p. 518): “It is evident unto all persons diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.”
After appropriate examination, they were to be admitted to their respective offices “by publick Prayer, with Imposition of Hands”.
The next sentence appears to be crucial: “And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed, in the Church of Ireland; no person shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in the Church of Ireland, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except they be … admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had formerly Episcopal Consecration or Ordination.”
This was the doctrine and practice of the Church of Ireland in the eighteenth century, of the United Churches of England and Ireland in the nineteenth century and of the disestablished Church of Ireland in the late nineteenth, twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
This is the basis of full communion between the Church of Ireland and the other Churches of the Anglican Communion, with those Churches such as the Spanish and Lusitanian Episcopal Churches which developed independently but were later incorporated into the Anglican Communion, and with the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.
If, as Canon Crooks writes, “we are about to enter into an agreement where ministers are not episcopally ordained as priests and deacons” who will be allowed “to celebrate the Eucharist in our churches”, will the Church of Ireland not be in breach of her own stated principles and doctrine of the Sacred Ministry?
I think it is only right that the Church of Ireland members of the Covenant Committee should give us some explanation as to how this decision was reached, and how we will avoid compromising our relations with those Churches with which we are already in full communion.
I have no wish to underestimate the spiritual reality of the Methodist Church, or the magnificent liturgical development evident in the Methodist Worship Book (1999) or the closeness and fellowship that have grown up between our two Churches, but, like Canon Crooks, I feel that “union should not involve the compromising of that system for which people like Hooker and Cranmer and the Wesleys fought so hard”.
Charles Jury Belfast BT9 6FX
Marriage in the Bible
THE REVD DAVID HUSS (Letter, 17th May) repeats the claim made in his previous letter (26th April) that Genesis 1 and 2 present marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In fact, marriage is not mentioned in either Genesis 1 or 2, nor is homosexuality.
The American Presbyterian theologian, the Revd Professor Jack Rogers, says: “This notion that a model of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is somehow contained in Genesis 1 and 2 is simply not true. It appears to be an artificial construct designed to deny the rights of marriage to those who are homosexual.” (Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality, 2009, p.83). Mr Huss also mentions Mark 10, but in that chapter, Jesus deals with the subject of divorce. There is no mention of same-sex marriage.
References to Genesis and to Mark 10 are both examples of a logical fallacy, the ad ignorantiam argument, argument by appeal to the unknown, argument based on assumptions about what was not said.
The Bible often mentions dogs, but mentions cats only once. Should we, therefore, conclude that the Bible is opposed to cats? That would obviously be an absurd conclusion to draw.
The fact that the Bible often speaks positively about heterosexual relationships in no way implies a condemnation of homosexual relationships.
Paul Rowlandson Londonderry BT47
Features and Columns
- Focus on G8 Summit
- Soap – Down at St. David’s
- Musings – Alison Rooke – The gift
- An NASC – Caroline Nolan An Ghaeilge – Sárthaispeántas á thabhairt!
THE SPCK BIBLE GUIDE – AN ILLUSTRATED SURVEY OF ALL THE BOOKS IN THE BIBLE Author: Henry Wansbrough OSB Publisher: SPCK 2011; pp. 288 Price: £15.99
A CONSERVATIVE AT HEART Author: Stephen Kelly Publisher: Columba Press
RESPONDING TO GOD’S CALL – CHRISTIAN FORMATION TODAY Author: Jeremy Worthen Publisher: Canterbury Press
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