National Cathedral hosts Corrymeela Community’s 50th anniversary thanksgiving service
Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community Corrymeela, marked its 50th anniversary this month with a weekend of celebratory activities and events in Dublin, including a thanksgiving service in St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Corrymeela Community was founded in 1965 by the Revd Ray Davey – a former prisoner of war during the Second World War who later became Presbyterian Chaplain at Queen’s University Belfast – and a group of students from the university.
REFERENDA IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The 22nd May referenda in the Republic of Ireland will be held after we go to press this week, and it is expected that the results will already be known before many of our readers actually receive their copies of the Gazette. In such circumstances, we might usefully reflect on the possible consequences following the result going either in favour or against.
The immense media attention given to the referendum which would permit same-sex marriage has left almost no space in the public discourse to reflect on the referendum that would reduce the age of eligibility to be a candidate for election as President from the current 35 to 21 years of age. One consequence of the latter succeeding is not simply that there could be a very young President of Ireland but, more than that, the presence of such a very young candidate could lead to a greater interest within the younger generation in the election itself, as well as more widely in politics generally. That, at least, would only be a good thing. On the other hand, a President in his or her 20s, for example, would face a huge personal challenge simply by not having the benefit of the perspective that comes from a longer experience of life.
On the more controversial referendum – permitting same-sex marriage – there are several consequences to which we could point, in both possible result directions (barring an absolute tie).
Whatever happens, it will have been left to the people to decide on the issue, and not to politicians alone. A referendum is about ascertaining the will of the people much more directly and clearly than by looking to the view of the politicians they have elected. For normal governance purposes, this is of course how democracies operate; there cannot be referenda on every decision. However, the importance of a referendum is that it is the people actually speaking.
The fact that throughout the campaign the ‘No’ side was very anxious not to be cornered into a box labelled ‘homophobic’ has been good for pluralism and tolerance. However, a ‘Yes’ vote would cause something of a dilemma (perhaps to put it mildly) for the Churches. When the Church definition of marriage is not the same as the State definition, what happens? However, the Roman Catholic Church has already been living with this, in so far as, for example, the State definition allows divorce and remarriage. A ‘Yes’ vote would at least ask the Churches to consider seriously whether the Church and civil rites of marriage should be separated, as is already the case in many European countries. However, if this is done, would more and more people simply opt for a civil wedding when otherwise they may have been married in church?
Another factor will be the extent of the vote on either side. For example, a large ‘Yes’ vote could be taken as a sign of a continuing waning of the influence of the Churches’ declared teaching, while a narrower result, even if it is still in favour – and given the head of steam that the ‘Yes’ side had – could show that that teaching in fact still has a real influence in society.
As far as the Church of Ireland is concerned, a final question might be put: Do the various recent letters to the Gazette and other publications show a major rift within the Church of Ireland that mainly runs along the border, albeit with notable exceptions? Certainly, there does seem to be a general difference of approach, North and South. That cannot really be denied and, indeed, to deny it could be a huge mistake. Realities always need to be faced. It is only then that the best courses of action to secure a good future can be properly considered.
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