COI Gazette – 15th December 2017

Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday 6th December 2017, in Washington DC. (Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday 6th December 2017, in Washington DC. (Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump’s announcement of the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on 6th December has brought much reaction.

He has ignored pressure from world leaders who said the move would further incite an already volatile region and make it harder to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Among Israel’s large non-Jewish population – the 19% that is predominantly Muslim but also includes Christians and Druze – the response was decidedly negative.

Trump called the planned relocation of the US Embassy “a long overdue step to advance the peace process”. The relocation follows approval from both the House and the Senate. While the move divides American Jews, who mostly threw their support to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, it is supported by white American evangelical Christians – the core of Trump’s base – who have long lobbied for the change.




Underlying politics on this island is always the issue of identity. It is something that goes far deeper than even economic considerations. Our history over the centuries has shown just how profoundly important identity is to every community on our island. The experience of the last 50 years has deepened this. That is why things are not always as simple as we would like them to be.

Trying to play three-dimensional chess is one picture used to describe the task of Prime Minister Theresa May as she navigates a way to achieve Brexit. Whatever one’s views on Brexit it is surely proving to be one of the most complex processes imaginable – something that would need the brain of Einstein and the coolness of a poker player to successfully navigate.

Into this complexity add the issue of identity that pervades our politics on every part of this island. It is then not just the brain of Einstein but the wisdom of Solomon that is required.

Whether a ‘Remainer’ or a ‘Brexiteer’ we can agree that one of the effects of the Brexit process has been to inject a degree of instability into relationships on these islands: between the British and Irish governments, between north and south as well as between the different identities on the island. Unfortunately, this provides opportunities to ferment uncertainty and division for any who thrive on that.
The years since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement have been chequered, with some dark and bloody times along the way. The journey has been imperfect and frustrating, with some families having had to bear hurt that they should never have had to.

However, it has shown us that it is possible to work for political solutions to intractable problems on these islands without having to resort to violence or the threat of it. We refuse to have this as part of how we work out our future, and the rest of the world is a witness to this.

How is the three-dimensional game of chess that is Brexit to be played? It is a game that we may or may not wish had to be played. The job of politicians is to find solutions for problems, whether of their choosing or not. Solving Brexit, mixed with our identity politics is the job of our political leaders and the Prime Minister. Complex times indeed.

It is a time for cool heads and calm words from all of us as we face the uncertainties that Brexit casts up. There is much more at stake for us than economic relationships. We give a fair wind to our political leaders as they try to navigate a way ahead. No matter what we say, none of us are queuing up for their jobs. What we do not give fair wind to is any temptation for anyone to use the current circumstances to ferment uncertainty and division.


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Letters to the Editor

Same-sex marriage debate

IN AN interesting letter in the Gazette Professor Barker said that we are unlikely ever to agree or even find some overlapping platform on which we could build some common understanding. One of your respondents declared himself to be “sad”. I could agree with that.

While this is very discouraging indeed, I want to offer three reasons why I think the Church of Ireland should easily be able to come to agreement and obey the godly desire “that all of you agree with each another … that we be perfectly united in mind and thought”.

The three reasons are that:

1. The biblical teaching is in unanimous agreement;

2. 2,000 years of church tradition is in unanimous agreement;

3. The worldwide Church is almost in unanimous agreement.

Those of us who take the biblical, traditional and global Christian view on sexuality and gender have a concern to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4: 3).

Our desire is to maintain ecumenical relations “So that with one mind and one voice we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15: 6).

We desire to stand with the clear majority of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Baptists and all other global
Christians. Our desire is to stand with “such a great cloud of witnesses”(Hebrews 12: 1), throughout 1,500 years of biblical history and 2,000 years of Church history, who are in complete agreement.

In contrast, liberal revisionists seem willing to recklessly and arrogantly sever ties with the history of the Church, destroy ecumenical relations and forsake biblical teaching. All of this simply because of a very western, very modern and very transient agenda.

The Revd David S.G. Godfrey called this “audacity”. Audacity indeed.

Ryan Wilson, Belfast



I READ with interest the interview by the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, in the London Evening Standard (21st November 2017), concerning some form of an all-Ireland economy/Irish unity after Brexit.

A United Ireland in my view is a lost cause unless the Republic of Ireland rejoins the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth.

To have a United Ireland, independent of the United Kingdom, would be a disaster for the Irish Republic.

Has the Irish Republic ever considered the cost of such a United Ireland to the Irish taxpayer, in terms of the economic cost of absorbing Northern Ireland into the
Irish economy?

This would include the extra expense of the health service, social services and unemployment costs in the north as well as housing amongst others – without international aid from Britain, the European Union and the USA.

Does the Irish Republic really want to absorb a million or more Protestants into the Republic, who would be hostile to such a move? Are Irish nationalists and the Irish government being realistic about Irish unity? Is it possible for Irish nationalists to think outside the ‘box’?

James Annett
London England


Letters page

IS THERE any possibility that we might be spared references to sex in the pages of the Gazette, for at the very least the season of Advent – please?!

It could be reimposed as an affliction for the season of Lent.

Archbishop Walton Empey, Tullow Co. Carlow


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