COI Gazette – 24th February 2017

Rector dedicates memorial quilt at terrorism victims and survivors meeting in TCD

Revd Alan Irwin

Revd Alan Irwin

A reception was held in Trinity College Dublin on Friday 10th February to launch a commemorative quilt remembering victims and survivors of the Troubles who are living in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The quilt is a project of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) and was dedicated at the TCD event by the Revd Alan Irwin, rector of Lack, Co. Fermanagh, whose father and uncle were both murdered by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles.

Commenting to the Gazette on the event, entitled ‘Terrorism Knows No Borders’, Mr Irwin said: “It was a privilege to be part of the ‘Terrorism Knows No Borders’ event in Trinity and to have offered prayers of dedication for the memorial quilt which has patches reflecting the lives of innocent victims of terrorism from throughout the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom.”



Already before last week’s Church of England General Synod ‘take note’ debate on the report of the House of Bishops upholding the teaching that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, a group of 14 retired bishops raised the temperature in an open letter to the serving bishops expressing concern that the report did not allow the authentic voice of LGBT people to be heard or the real theological argument to be advanced, and therefore would not enable the Church to engage credibly with wider society.

The statement was couched in decidedly lecturing tones, which will not have helped its cause. The retired bishops told the serving bishops: “Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situation suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.”

The report from the House of Bishops recommended that the Church of England’s law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without changing  the Church’s doctrine of marriage itself, intending to uphold the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as is also taught by the Church of Ireland.

In their report, the English bishops also called for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbian and gay people and those attracted to people of the same sex throughout the Church of England, and recommended that bishops prepare a substantial new teaching document on marriage and relationships to replace or expand upon documents drawn up in the 1990s.

In the bishops’ report, which was an attempt to sum up the Church’s position after a two-year process of shared conversations on the subject of human sexuality, involving clergy and laity, the bishops also spoke of the need for the Church to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke wherever and whenever it is to be found.

When it came to the synodical debate, the bishops’ report was rejected by a narrow majority in the House of Clergy only. As far as going forward from here is concerned, one thing is sure, and that is that the debate will go on. However, it is very difficult to see the English General Synod actually changing the current teaching of the Church on marriage but it would seem that there will be a continued attempt to reach some compromise, within the bounds of current teaching, between the two deeply divided, traditional and liberal, camps. As things stand, however, the Church of England’s traditional Christian teaching on the subject remains unchanged. (Report, page 9)


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  • Installation at St Patrick’s Cathedral
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In Perspective Looking back

Insight Offering hope in South Sudan this Lent By Deborah Doherty, Head of Church and Community for Christian Aid Ireland

The Very Revd Alistair Grimason, Diocesan Communications Officer for Tuam, Killala and Achonry, contributes this month’s Diocesan Focus article


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Letters to the Editor

Church of Ireland ‘quango-land’

AS A RETIRED clergyman, I can take a fairly detached view of the somewhat farcical census-taking inflicted upon perfectly harmless members of the clergy and laity.

On one Sunday I was present in church both morning and evening but was informed, to my considerable indignation, that I could only be counted once.

I wished I could take the second attendance back but could not think how to do it. Perhaps I should have said in my prayers, “I wasn’t really
there, Lord, I only appeared to be. Sorry!”

To my great satisfaction, I was taking services in three different churches the following Sunday and signed myself in each time, and so, I think, did the organist, who travelled around too, and a Reader who happened to be with us, turning, I suppose, three people into nine!

I feel really good about this. Down with it all!
Michael Kennedy (Canon)

Vicar’s Hill Armagh

Kate O’Brien stained glass window

IS THERE a stained glass window by Kate O’Brien called Crucifixion in a Church of Ireland church?Originally, it was in the chapel of Brook House Preparatory School, Monkstown,
Co. Dublin, which was dedicated in 1959 by Archbishop G. O. Simms. The chapel no longer exists.

Another of the stained glass windows, St Brigid, has been in Kilbride Church in the parish of Powerscourt with  Kilbride since 1990.
I have a photograph of Kate O’Brien’s window and may be contacted by email ( Andrew Furlong

Dalkey Co. Dublin


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