COI Gazette -20th March 2015

Bishop Glenfield joins ecumenical initiative against same-sex marriage referendum proposal, while wider C. of I. is accused of moral ‘farce

Bishop Ferran Glenfield

Bishop Ferran Glenfield

The Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, the Rt Revd Ferran Glenfield, last week joined with a 50-strong ecumenical group as a signatory to a publication, entitled Same- Sex Marriage Referendum May 2015: A Cross-Denominational Response, which states why the group’s members will vote ‘No’ in the Republic of Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum in May, and why they will encourage others to do the same.

However, also last week the religious affairs correspondent of The Irish Times, Patsy McGarry, in an article on the referendum subject, claimed that, in the context of international Anglican divisions over gay clergy, “the Church of Ireland sits on the fence over the marriage equality referendum as its House of Bishops cannot agree to do otherwise”.

Mr McGarry added: “That Church is divided on gay clergy to the point of farce.”




The World Council of Churches has reported that, in a “high-level” panel event on Climate Change and Human Rights held at the UN in Geneva, the WCC’s General Secretary, Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said that, despite all negative conditions surrounding the subject, “we have the right to hope”, but he rightly stressed that this hope was not to be taken as a matter of passive waiting but required an active process of engagement.

The panel event was held earlier this month, as part of a one-day discussion on climate change at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, and Dr Tveit took the opportunity to reinforce the message of the inherent links between climate change and human rights: “We are together in this blue planet as one humanity. Our actions have a positive or negative impact on the basic conditions for the life of others – of all. Therefore, we need to see this in the perspective of universal human rights.”

Drawing on his own experience, the General Secretary referred to his visits to WCC member-Churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, as well as in countries close to the Arctic, commenting: “I have realized that, for many communities, climate change is a terrible threat. They are suffering some of its consequences: the rise of sea level and salinization of fresh water, the increase in frequency and intensity of tropical storms, the change in rainfall patterns, droughts and floods, and changing temperatures which have direct impact on their food security and sovereignty.”
Dr Tveit also recalled words from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, when he said that there could be no separation between concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice and concern for ecological preservation and sustainability.

It is, indeed, not only the long-term future of the planet with which the topic of climate change is concerned but climate change also impacts more immediately on ordinary people’s lives, very often the poorest and most vulnerable individuals and communities across the globe.

Also taking part in the panel event was the former Irish President, Mary Robinson. Last year, Mrs Robinson took on the role of UN Special Envoy on Climate Change at the request of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, having formerly been UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. Mrs Robinson heads the Dublin-based Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, which describes itself as “a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalized across the world”.

At the panel event, Mrs Robinson referred to the Geneva Pledge on Human Rights and Climate Action, which constitutes a welcome commitment to international solidarity in acting on the climate change issue, both for the sake of people today and for the sake of future generations.


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