COI Gazette – 20th February 2015

Church-led study to investigate possible inadvertent links between human trafficking and top companies

(Photo: Anglican News Service)

(Photo: Anglican News Service)

A pioneering piece of academic research has recently been initiated to uncover possible links between human trafficking and the global activities of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies – with a view to highlighting best practice so that lives can be saved.

The ‘FTSE 100’ is the name given to a share index of the 100 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalisation and is traditionally seen as a good indication of the performance of major companies listed in the UK.





Bishop John Prichard, who retired last year as Bishop of Oxford, has provided this year’s SPCK Lent Book, The Journey, focusing on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where he would face his ultimate ordeal: his arrest, trial – if one can call it that – and crucifixion. Bishop Prichard notes the sentence at Luke 9: 51, referring to Jesus, as easily overlooked in its significance: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” There is indeed a sense of determination in those words; Jesus had decided to make that journey, to face all that had to be faced and not to turn back. There is real resolve here, and it is a resolve that gains its strength from nothing less than Jesus’ trust in his heavenly Father.

Lent is itself a journey that we are all to make in spirit. We are to focus our thoughts on all that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and its conclusion meant for us and for the whole world. Our concentration on the subject is to be helped by extra devotions and self-denial. It is only if we really do make that spiritual effort that we can hope to find the journey to be one that deepens us in spirit.

Perhaps self-denial is not a particularly popular theme nowadays, but, in fact, giving is always a much richer experience than getting – and giving of ourselves brings its own rewards which contrast so fundamentally with any grasping for ourselves. As Lent commences, it will be an opportunity sadly missed if each of us does not actually practise some self-denial during its course. Lent is a spiritual opportunity, a time given to us by which our lives can be truly enriched, if only we will play our part. Journeying is, of course, a well known religious theme. A pilgrimage to some holy place is a religious experience and so too the weeks of Lent, with their own spiritual journey to Golgotha and beyond, are a pilgrimage in their own way. Hopefully, we set forth on this journey with determination to make it, by God’s help, as fulfilling a pilgrimage as it can possibly be. Indeed, we need only recall how Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” if we want an inspiration really to make the Lenten journey the kind of journey it is supposed to be.

Of particular note in any long journey are the experiences one has on the way. Journeying today can be a monotonous experience, as one waits at airports, sits on aircraft or trundles by car or bus along seemingly endless miles of unchanging motorway. Yet, in journeying, it is important to try to make contact with those whose paths we cross, unafraid to speak to the stranger sitting beside us while on the go or at a stopping place. Sometimes people do not want to speak, but more often than not there is a welcome exchange and something to be learned, a brief insight into another person’s life and concerns. Speaking to strangers opens up so many possibilities for enriching the journey and making it a spiritual experience in its own way.

The journey of Lent is upon us. Let us go, determined to stay the course and thereby find both renewal and blessing.


Home News

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Bishop of Cork calls for National Forum on RoI education

Killiney Parish Centre – a ‘wonderful service’ to the whole community

Seafarers’ecumenical memorial service held in Dublin port

Dublin hosting Q Commons – seeking to advance good in the city

Evening for bereaved parents

Renowned singer/songwriter to give Dublin concert


  • Rethinking Church  – Mechanics v technicians
  • Life Lines –  Stephen Fry: angry man

World News

Share Jesus with ‘joy and delight’ – Archbishop Welby tells English General Synod

President Obama condemns ‘distorted’ faith

Focus on Africa’s Islamic extremists diverting attention from South Sudan


Letters to the Editor

Appeal for information on Gladys Aylward

I AM currently researching the story of the late missionary to China, Miss Gladys Aylward (1902-1970), who became a household name in the 1960s with the Hollywood film, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

That film was based on Gladys’s life and starred Ingrid Bergman as Gladys bringing 100 orphans over the Shanxi mountains to safety in Xian via the Yellow River, during the Sino-Japanese war.

Gladys later came back to England for a time and told her story of how she, as a simple parlour maid, made her way to China on the Trans-Siberian Railway alone to help run an inn for muleteers in the remote mountainous village of Yangcheng.

Her story captured the nation, especially as she was rejected by the China Inland Mission for not being educated enough and was deemed ‘unqualified’.
I was fortunate enough in 2006 and 2007 to visit Yangcheng in mainland China and pay respects at Gladys’s grave in Taiwan, where she ran an orphanage until her death in 1970. I was encouraged to discover just how many people still remember the story of ‘The Small Woman’ across the world (as the title of the best- selling book about her exploits described her).

I am making an appeal to anyone who may have memories of Gladys talking at their church or school or other event, during the time that she was back in the British Isles, to share any information they might have about this largely unrecorded part of her life.

She travelled widely across England, Scotland, Wales and in parts of Ireland to share her experiences of how God called her to China and she was an inspiration to countless  individuals and congregations alike.

It would be wonderful to capture those details and form a clearer itinerary of her activities during those years and catalogue them for possible use in an article or small book to fill in those gaps.

Please get in touch with those family members or friends who might remember her. I can be reached via the details below.

I thank you in anticipation for your cooperation and time, and encourage you that it will be worth it to document these important little recollections of history.
Colin Nevin
45c Rathgill Park Bangor Co. Down BT19 7TQ; email: tel. 028 9185 7583 mob. 07719 471503

Archbishop of Dublin on the market economy

DISCUSSION HAS arisen over recent remarks by Archbishop Michael Jackson in his Christmas sermon (Gazette, 9th and 23rd January, 6th February). Contained in his sermon is the following:

“The Market, even when it is functioning, does not create a society of dignity and of welcome. The Market Forces which we tend to worship every day have brought about an inhumanity which now lies at the heart of what it is to be human – until you are rejected, homeless, hungry, persecuted and find yourself joining the anonymous non- persons whose Agenda Jesus Christ has brought to the heart of this world’s agenda: the poor, the homeless, the refugees.”

Questions have been raised about what was meant in the above statement. While I cannot presume to know the mind of the Archbishop, it would seem to me that the issue at hand is not whether market economies are good or not but whether those forms of market economy that we are familiar with in today’s world, including Europe, are just or sustainable.

Within the European Union, which is said to be founded on principles of market economy, competition, democracy and social cohesion, it is not
inappropriate to critique forms of capitalism and market economy that are at variance with fundamental human values and rights.

In this regard, there is a role for communities, families and the State to regulate/adapt/ reshape market economies, as appropriate. It all depends on what sort of society or economy we envisage for 21st century Europe.

Within the EU, there is a wide variety of social models, ranging from low-tax, small-state, relatively unregulated market models (some of the Baltic States and former communist states in south east Europe) to high-tax, big-state, social compact models in Scandinavia.

In between, but somewhat closer to the UK and US models, is the Republic of Ireland.

Christians have a duty to engage with political debates about society and the economy, informed by Gospel and biblical values. Christians will also differ on how to apply these principles and insights to concrete social situations. In any case, nobody has a monopoly of wisdom.

As another bishop who is the focus of suspicion of radical political thoughts – Francis – wrote recently: “As long as the
problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

The adjective ‘absolute’ is to be noted.  Across the water, yet another Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu of York – editor of On Rock or Sand? – has landed himself in a spot of trouble with sections of the media and the political establishment.  Memories of the ‘Faith in the City’ report from 1985 come to mind.

Coming back to Dublin – if it is the case that the Archbishop, here, really doesn’t believe in the market economy, full stop, then we might have reason to mark a second precedent. Following the consecration of Ireland’s first- ever woman bishop, we may now be witnessing the first red bishop!

One is reminded of remarks by a former Taoiseach who claimed that there were only three socialists in Dáil Eireann and he was one of them!
Tom Healy, Portmarnock Co. Dublin

The Church, the Constitution and same-sex marriage

THE REVD Peter Hanna (Gazette, 6th February) and Eimhin Walsh (13th February) question whether I am correct in the views I expressed (30th January) that clergy in the Republic may be legally obliged to conduct same-sex marriage after the Constitution has been amended. The answer to this question is that I really do not know.

When this amendment is passed, it will create uncharted legal territory. At present, there is no constitutional right to contract a marriage. When the amendment is passed, there will be a new constitutional right for all citizens to enter a marriage regardless of their sex and we are all only too well aware of the history of unforeseen consequences of constitutional amendments.

Tim Bracken  Cork

Families funding second-level education

SIMON THOMPSON, Headmaster of Kilkenny College (Letters, 30th January), displays the convert’s zeal in lauding the tuition-free scheme and ascribing to it the increase in pupil numbers.

This scheme was introduced by Wilson’s Hospital School and when launched met with a great deal of opposition from other schools, not least Kilkenny College, whose spokesman told RTÉ television that the scheme would not work. Now that Kilkenny, Newtown ( Waterford) and St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School have followed the path first pioneered by Wilson’s, the scheme is a proven success.

However, nationwide, the number of Church of Ireland children attending the twenty- seven Protestant-managed, second-level schools continues to decline. In the 1960s, eighty per cent of Church of Ireland children attended a Protestant- managed school. That figure, at best, is now sixty-six per cent. This decline can only be attributed to the high tuition fees sought by too many of the schools. Two- thirds charge tuition fees, some as high as €14,000 a year.

Information on the schools attended by the all-Protestant entry to the Church of Ireland College of Education this year reveals that two-thirds did not
attend a Protestant-managed school. I have called at General Synod for the Church of Ireland to acknowledge the debt owed to Roman Catholic-managed schools who have educated Protestant children, free of charge, when such children could not access a school of their own ethos due to fee levels.

In parts of this country, such as, though by no means only, West Dublin, some Church of Ireland children cannot access a Church of Ireland school due to high fee levels. At a General Synod, Dean McKelvey told of how the Eleven Plus divided pupils leaving first- level schools in the North. We have an educational apartheid in the Republic, based not on academic ability, but on fee levels.

Wilson’s, and those who have followed the no-tuition fee road, have maintained their ethos and increased the numbers of children from Protestant homes. The majority of pupils in Wilson’s and Kilkenny are from Church of Ireland families, something that most of the fee chargers cannot claim.

If I have stirred up a wasp’s nest, and perhaps a few stinging replies, it won’t be the first time in forty-two years of teaching.

Adrian Oughton  Drogheda, Co. Louth

Book Reviews

Author: David J. Bryan Publisher: SPCK
Authors: Angus Ritchie and Nick Spencer Publisher: Theos; pp.76

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