Strong support from CAI for Prime Minister’s criticism of Church same-sex marriage stance
Responding to recent controversial comments by Prime Minister David Cameron who was supporting the concept of same-sex marriage and stated that “the Church shouldn’t be locking out people who are gay, or are bisexual or are transgender from being full members”, the Secretary of the Church campaigning group, Changing Attitude Ireland (CAI ), Canon Charles Kenny, has issued a statement to the Gazette, in his capacity as CAI Secretary, giving the Prime Minister’s approach unequivocal and outspoken endorsement.
CAI says it is working for the “full inclusion” of LGBT persons within the Churches.
THE OLYMPICS AND ‘CURIOSITY’
There is no doubt that the London Olympic Games have been phenomenal in the impression they have made on millions of people. The opening ceremony of the Games, which ended last Sunday, was a remarkable event.
It was lavish, but inspiring. In a way, it challenged the present government to see a bigger picture and stood in contrast to all the shabby scandals of recent times. Its celebration of the National Health Service must have been a difficult spectacle for those members of the government who were present, given that planned reforms are so unpopular. It presented a decidedly communitarian vision, and one which, strikingly, contained a real religious dimension.
Then the Games themselves saw many triumphs and people across the world were able to observe competitors at world-class level. The London Olympics were a heartening time for people across the globe and many of the participants spoke openly about really spiritual things.
At the same time as the Olympics were in full progress, NASA successfully landed the one-ton rover spacecraft, aptly called ‘Curiosity’, on Mars. The achievement was also phenomenal in its own way, touching down as Curiosity did in a perfect remote, guided landing 350 million miles from Earth. Moreover, because of its power system, it will be able to spend two years exploring and examining the planet in search of evidence of life on Mars many, many years ago.
The cost of the Curiosity project has been quoted at some $2.5b, while the estimate for the London Olympics has been set at some £9b. However, both have ‘spin offs’. The Olympic Games saw massive development in the East End of London and brought revenue into the country that is estimated at over the amount of the cost. As far as Curiosity is concerned, the commerce that NASA stimulates and the innovations that it inspires are far-reaching. Michael Benson, a writer on space and science subjects, commented last week in The New York Times that, given the steady stream of high-tech innovations from NASA for decades, enriching life and bolstering the economy, the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars “should be an occasion not just to celebrate an astonishingly cool civilizational achievement, but also to renew [the United States’] national commitment to the peaceful exploration of outer space”.
The Olympics and Curiosity speak of achievement and it is certainly true that human excellence naturally lifts hearts and prompts thoughts that are higher and nobler – thoughts of the spirit and, ultimately, thoughts of God.
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Letters to the Editor
Changing ministerial times
I read with fascination the article by the Very Revd Brian Moller about the clergy in Connor Diocese who were ordained priests in 1962 (Gazette, 10th August).
I became a deacon in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe in 1969 and can only assume that there was a marked change in the lives of curates-assistant in that short, seven-year span.
With a wife and four children, I had a fourbedroom house provided. In order to make my stipend sufficient to maintain my family, the rector spoke to the local secondary modern school which provided me with several hours paid teaching each week.
I was treated with the utmost respect by my rector, the select vestry and the congregation at large, and was given the right to use my time, outside teaching, to be involved in all parish duties as I saw fit.
I think that when I moved on to be rector of my own parish, I had left a positive mark.
Kenneth Reeves (The Revd) Stoke Holy Cross Norwich NR14
Clergy under criticism
It’s always interesting to read of clergy telling other clergy how to do their jobs (Archdeacon Clayton Stevenson’s letter, Gazette, 10th August).
I am fortunate to have no huge distances to cover in this cure, churches, hospitals, homes and prisons mostly being within 10 miles of the rectory. I do my best, which is doubtless not good enough for some.
I admire hugely my colleagues, largely, I guess, in the Republic, who have enormous swathes of land to cover as they go about their work and visiting in the context of escalating travel costs, sometimes unrealistic expectations and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that affect us ageing clergy. I have no doubt that they too are doing their best.
One of the things that trips me up most is the assumption that I will know of someone’s indisposition without being told.
What affects us all is the task of marrying the expectations of those used to days of yore, when there were more clergy at their beck and call, with the realities of 21st century legislation and the work that it demands. Oh to be a retired archdeacon.
Stanley Monkhouse (The Revd) The Rectory Portlaoise Co. Laois
On reading Stephen Neill’s article (Gazette, 3rd August), I can understand where he is coming from. It is not only Protestants who feel uncomfortable with the ecumenical movement but also some Catholics feel the same way.
I live in Lucan, Co. Dublin, where we have a very strong ecumenical presence among all our Churches. We have three Catholic parishes (I am from St Patrick’s Catholic parish of Esker-Dodsboro- Adamstown), Church of Ireland, Methodist, Presbyterians and Quakers, plus many African churches with small congregations and also a Muslim community. Every Good Friday, there is a procession in the village, where we start at St Mary’s Catholic church and then process to the other churches and pray together, ending in St Andrew’s Church of Ireland and afterwards a cup of tea, etc. in their parish hall.
At Christmas, we have carols and prayers on our village green and the Church Unity octave is held in each others’ churches. Most of the clergy meet once a month for an ecumenical lunch in each others’ homes.
So here we have a great getting together of all our Churches and, of course, recognising our differences. Prayer is an important part of our lives; that is where we all agree, knowing we have one God.
I have the greatest respect for all the clergy in our area. I have interviewed on my programme on Liffey Sound 96.4FM Community Radio here in Lucan all the clergy from all our Churches and have enjoyed doing so.
I think it is important that the ecumenical movement should continue and grow in strength and faith. I have often remarked that if the Lord came down to earth, his first question would be: Why is my Church divided? We are all members of God’s family no matter who we are and are going on the one journey to meet him.
Pat Quinn Lucan, Co. Dublin
On 2nd August, I attended the funeral service for the Revd Derek Sargent in Dublin (Tribute, page 5). It was, as one may expect, a very sad occasion that gave me cause to reflect.
I have been ordained just over three years and my journey into ministry has blessed me in very many ways, but I would like to take the opportunity to comment on those things that I did not fully appreciate on leaving Theological College.
This is a very lonely life. Collegial support is invaluable, but we all have our own path of ministry to follow. It is a life that requires one to be constantly aware of one’s own vulnerabilities, lest they interfere with pastoral care.
It requires one to be mild-mannered in the face of others’ agitation and frustration. It can require receiving abusive phone calls simply because one’s number is in the public domain. It can involve a day of exposure to others’ raw emotional pain and distress and the need to switch to being available for one’s own family on arriving home.
It is a life where there is constant self-examination as to whether one was present enough, helpful enough and engaged enough (often in difficult circumstances), but it may be impossible to ascertain whether a task was completed well.
I paused that morning to remember in my own thoughts and prayers those whose life in ministry has blessed mine, those who have cared for me and to whom I may never have said thank you.
Ministerial life – wonderfully fulfilling, but certainly challenging.
Ruth Elmes (The Revd) Sandyford Dublin 16
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