COI Gazette – 16th September 2011

Bishop Patrick Rooke with his wife, Alison, and (from left) son-in-law, Oliver; daughters, Emily and Susanna; and son, Nicholas (Photo: The Revd Gerald Macartney)

Bishop Patrick Rooke with his wife, Alison, and (from left) son-in-law, Oliver; daughters, Emily and Susanna; and son, Nicholas (Photo: The Revd Gerald Macartney)

Front Page

Bishop Patrick Rooke consecrated for Tuam, Killala and Achonry

Last Thursday, the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Rt Revd Patrick Rooke was consecrated as Bishop of the United Dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Achonry in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, where he had served as Dean since 2006.

Consecrating were the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, along with twelve other serving and retired Bishops of the Church of Ireland, and the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.




There has been concerned and very deep reaction to the recent revelation that the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Revd Tom Gordon, who is open about being a gay man and was appointed as Dean last year, has entered into a same-sex civil partnership. The situation gained added momentum after Dean Gordon confirmed on Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme on 4th September that this had been with the prior knowledge of his Bishop and without being asked for any assurances regarding lifestyle. In addition, he said that he had initially declined to be considered for the post of Dean but that, after being pressed to reconsider, had agreed to allow his name to go forward for interview on the understanding that “this is who I was and also that this would be what would be happening”.

While civil partnership is not marriage and does not necessarily involve same- sex sexual expression, there is a very wide perception that it is a form of gay marriage, and perceptions are, of course, often as important as facts. No doubt for this reason, and also because the Christian ethical aspect of same-sex expression is theologically highly contentious, Church of England bishops ask clergy entering civil partnerships to give an undertaking

that their relationship is celibate. Differing views on this subject have co-existed in a relatively settled way in the Church of Ireland during the whole inter-Anglican debate over recent years, but what has now developed jeopardises that situation. While those on one side see an advance for gay rights in the Church, those on the other side feel that there has been an unacceptable, unilateral move on the subject. There is thus a sense of ‘log-jam’, and it is dangerous.

This is a time both for an honest speaking of minds and for action that displays Christian grace. Without openness, matters cannot really be confronted; without grace, the Church is untrue to itself.

Regular central meetings of the Church of Ireland are due to be held shortly and the Archbishop of Armagh has indicated that the subject in question will be considered by the Bishops in the near future. The Church now needs a breathing space and the relevant bodies should be allowed the opportunity to reflect, with urgency, leading to the best steps that can be taken to guard the Church of Ireland’s unity in truth and holiness. (Report, page 4; Statements & letters, pages 8-9)

Home News

  • Diocese of Armagh parish restores historic 19th century cottage
  • Crosslinks’ mission partner to return to Ethiopia
  • Civil partnership controversy
  • Tribute – The Revd John (Jack) Moore
  • The vision lives on Harry Allen writes about the work of Macmillan Cancer Support in its centenary year.


World News

  • European Churches need to cooperate Emore in mission – ecumenical leader
  • WCC honours 9/11 victims
  • Priest’s arrest is baseless, says Bishop of Harare



Civil Partnerships controversy STATEMENTS

  • Statement issued on 7th September by the Archbishop of Armagh
  • Joint-statement issued on 9th September by the committees of the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine (Ireland) and Reform Ireland


Letters to the editor

Civil partnerships controversy

WHAT IS happening to the Church of Ireland? Last Sunday, a very faithful and devout member of the Church said that after hearing about the Dean of Leighlin’s civil partnership on the news, she wondered if she should be sitting in church at all. I know how she felt, and so do many others.

I do not know the dean personally, so am not making any form of personal attack on him. He has not stated whether his 20-year-long relationship is a celibate one or not, but why did Bishop Burrows not ask for an assurance that the

relationship would be celibate, as is required in the Church of England?

It seems as though once again the homosexual lobby is going ahead and doing its own thing in the hope that there will be no repercussions. This really is not good enough. We are fast approaching the situation recorded in the Book of Judges, where “every man did that which is right in his own eyes”.

S. Wilson (mrs)
6 Thornhill Crescent,

Tandragee Co. Armagh B62 2NZ


RECENT developments regarding civil partnerships amongst the clergy of the Church of Ireland should come as no great surprise. Such has been the topic of debate within the Church of England for several years and the Episcopal Church in the United States has its own version of events, about which little needs to be said. With Ireland stuck between the two, it was only a question of when.

Perhaps we are at the brink of schism or some variation on the theme. Gone are the days for waffle and bungled attempts to sweep matters under the carpet, hoping that no one will ask too many hard questions, hoping that onlookers will forget if we placate and debate for long enough.

What we are left with is a Church quite ill-prepared to deal with the issue head on, elements within it being more interested in preserving the institution and some fabricated sense of unity than the orthodoxy of Christian teaching.

This is a sad day. The chickens are heading home to roost. I only hope that those within our traditionalist and evangelical communities present sufficient gravitas in their responses.

The decline in the institutional Church is plain to see and the events of recent days will do nothing to instil confidence or restore integrity. Indeed, they leave many wondering what the Church of Ireland actually believes, and how this is supposed to square with the historic fundamentals of social morality and Christian discipline.

M.W.J. Loney (The Revd) The Rectory

Ahoghill Co. Antrim BT42 2PA


TO FIND out what different groups in the Church of Ireland were saying about Dean Gordon’s civil partnership, I recently visited the website of the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy (EFIC). To my astonishment, I found that seven of the eight statements on the website, going back some years, were concerned with condemning homosexuality.

Now, I could make all sorts of theological comments on that, but my first reaction came more from the gut. I found it obsessive, prurient and, to be honest, really quite creepy. Do these people have nothing else to think about?

I thought that as Christians our duties were to love God, love our neighbours and spread the good news of salvation in Christ, not to poke our noses into people’s bedrooms.

In Ireland, we have seen Church and political leaders, from both main traditions, make a career out of battering people over the head with the Bible about sex, not least gay people, and then turning out to have less than perfect sexual morals themselves. Does EFIC really think that young people in Ireland will pay the slightest bit of attention to religious leaders whose main aim in life seems to be to demonise gays?

Our economy is in crisis, our young are emigrating to Australia in droves, the man in the street on both sides of the border is paying for the greed and bad judgement of the bankers, sectarian violence is rearing its ugly head again. Our people need hope. If they look to our evangelical fraternity for hope, it seems to be a case of asking for bread and being given a stone.

Gerry Lynch
Cape Town South Africa


Appreciation of the Gazette

PLEASE accept my huge thanks to all at the Gazette and Ecclesiastical for our new-look e-paper. It is so much easier to read!

It is often said that we are ‘behind the times’; not so with this very up-to-date Gazette. How nice to be able to ‘turn the pages’ online.

I would like to encourage as many as possible, if they have

not already done so, to change over to this way of subscribing to the Gazette. It is ‘eco- friendly’ and does away with the old problem of hard copy Gazettes being lost in the post or just not delivered on time.

Well done to all concerned!

Eileen Cremin (The Revd)
The Rectory

Forglen Terrace Fermoy, Co. Cork


I WAS really impressed with my ‘accidental’ discovery of the Church of Ireland Gazette’s new webpage. I was gobsmacked, to be honest. Gazette e-paper!? Audio clips? Facebook and Twitter … ! Wow! The Church of Ireland finally ‘gets it’. The digital penny has dropped.

I am a recently-returned Church of Ireland member. I became a convinced Christian outside the ‘cold walls’ of my childhood parish.

I had perceived Church of Ireland clergy and bishops as up some ivory tower, within the precincts of Trinity College, arguing arcane points of theology – to say nothing of the

Church’s general ‘what ho!’ and ‘jolly hockey-sticks’, middle- class bonhomie.

I have been the best part of 30 years outside the anglican Communion, in house Churches and fellowships. It is a cultural shift coming back.

The newly-energised Gazette goes a long way to looking ‘culturally kosher’ in these perilous and pessimistic times.

All the best in this fresh and meaningful expression of Gospel hope.
Louis Hemmings Newtownpark Avenue Blackrock Dublin

 Columns & Book Reviews

  •  Soap – Down at St. David’s
  • Rethinking Church – Stephen Neil – Stupid is Good
  • Life Lines – Ron Elsdon – Ten years later
  • FAREWELL TO RICHVIEW, MASONIC BOYS’ SCHOOL DUBLIN 1967-1980 Author: Gerald B. Hill Publisher: Peninsula Print and Design Ltd., Newtownards Price: £15

  • THE REFLECTIVE LEADER – STANDING STILL TO MOVE FORWARD Authors: Alan Smith and Peter Shaw Publisher: Canterbury Press; pp.133

News Extra

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