COI Gazette – 25th January 2013

Portrait of renowned sculptor ‘generously’ presented to Belfast Cathedral

The eminent craftsman, George Frederick Morris Harding (1874-1964), spent many years as the sculptor of the impressive capitals and corbels of the nave pillars of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

Recently, a rare portrait of Harding by the Belfast artist, Poppy Mollan (1881- 1975), which had become available on the local art market, was purchased and presented to St Anne’s by a donor who wished to remain anonymous.

The striking portrait of Harding is now hanging in the ambulatory of the Cathedral which surrounds the sanctuary.

Last year, the Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann, unveiled a Blue Plaque – plaques erected by the Ulster History Circle to mark a link between a location and a famous person or event – outside the artist’s home at Church Road, Holywood, Co. Down.

Dean Mann commented: “I am delighted that the Cathedral has been so generously presented with this painting by a philanthropic donor.



Last week’s rulings by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg regarding the cases of Christian employees Nadia Eweida, Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lilian Ladele raise important issues for both religious and nonreligious people.

The upholding of Nadia Eweida’s right to wear a small cross on a chain at work was an important recognition that there needs to be a proportionate approach to the issue by employers. To live in a world that is so ‘politically correct’ that a simple religious symbol could be banned in the workplace is to get the issue out of proportion. In fact, Ms Eweida’s employers, British Airways, after sending her home, had changed their jewellery and uniform policy and she had been able to return to her post, although British Airways had not compensated her. The ruling establishes the important principle that discreetly wearing a religious symbol at work should not be regarded as conduct subject to discipline.

In the case of Shirley Chaplin, she was not successful in establishing that she should have been allowed to wear a small cross on a necklace, as the reason why she had been denied this right was that the cross on a necklace could have interfered with her nursing duties in a way that would jeopardise health and safety, such as by spreading infection. This is possible, of course, but the key point in this ruling was that the case was rejected precisely on health and safety grounds and was not a ruling against wearing a religious symbol as such.

Gary McFarlane, a trainee psycho-sexual therapeutic counsellor with Relate, had been dismissed after indicating that he was unable to give a commitment to provide psycho-sexual counselling to same-sex couples. His case was not helped by the fact that he knew this would be part of his duties when he applied for the position, but he has commented that he felt there could have been a reasonable compromise, not least as gay couples simply would not have wanted him for psycho-sexual counselling in the first place.

Lilian Ladele had lost her job because, as a registrar, she had indicated that she could not officiate at same-sex civil partnerships, a requirement that arose subsequent to her taking up her post. While she lost her case, two of the five judges dissented, stating that Ms Ladele’s position was one of conscientious objection and that she should have been allowed latitude, not least as there were others who could have carried out the duties in question.

It is important that employers should give proper weight to individuals’ freedom of religion and conscience. Where employees clearly have a genuine religious or conscientious objection to performing a particular duty, accommodation guided by sound common sense should be sought.


Home News

  • Bishop Burrows’ ‘truly amazing’ vintage vehicles fundraising travels
  • New Derry and Raphoe publication designed to be ‘spiritual companion’
  • BACI Lent Bible study resource launched in Belfast and Dublin
  • ‘Archive of the Month’ features letters of former Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore
  • Youth Update UDYC Christmas dinner dance – ‘faith, fun and fellowship’ By Damian Shorten (United Diocesan Youth Council of Limerick and Killaloe committee member)
  • Tributes paid to noted Armagh churchman

World News

  • Church in Wales group set up to oversee review changes
  • Displaced Congolese get Tearfund water help


Letters to the Editor

Union flag issue and the demands of democracy

Democracy is no guarantee of good government. A good democracy is one where minorities feel safe under the government of the majority. Bad democracy is when a minority feels under threat from the majority.

The quality of any democracy or community is judged by how its minorities feel, not how the majority feels. Most of us will at some point in our lives feel like the unheard or unwanted minority.

It is possible to believe in democracy, but it requires a little bit more to trust democracy.

In the flag issue, I can trust democracy to be making the right decisions because I have so many other things to fall back on. I have a job. I am well educated. I have friends and family and between us we are well resourced and secure.

My sense of being a minority in the Belfast City Council voting does not threaten my sense of security and Britishness, but I can see how it might threaten others and we cannot ignore how they must feel.

We need to hear those who perceive that they are alone and powerless. So what can be done to make sure that any minority at any time of the year and in any situation does not feel the need to protest in a way that hurts everyone?

I think the responsibility always lies first with the majority. In this case, the majority is in Belfast City Council. On other occasions, the majority may be an entirely different group of politicians or citizens or organisations.

The majority in any situation has a responsibility to look out for the minorities who feel threatened and fearful. So, let’s hear the people who took the vote to remove a flag for certain days address the fears of the minority who feel threatened.

‘What could we do to help you feel your identity is not under threat?’ ‘What would help you feel safe and included as a valid part of this democracy?’

I would add that these questions could be asked at many other times in our political calendar and asked in both or all directions. Any relationship that wants to work has to be the engagement of two people or groups who look out for the other’s hopes and dreams rather than seeking after their own first. It can work. Our salvation required it and our Gospel demands it.

Adrian McCartney (The Revd) Dundonald Belfast


New library for the Centre for Celtic Spirituality

The Centre for Celtic Spirituality is in the process of establishing a study library and would welcome donations.

If Gazette readers have any books or AV material which they no longer require, in the following categories, we would welcome them as additions to the library:

Early Irish Church history; Celtic Spirituality; Celtic prayers/liturgies; Books by the Revd David Adam, the Revd Ray Simpson, Esther De Waal, Sean O’Duinn, John O’Donohue or other writers on Celtic Spirituality; Early Irish Saints; Pilgrimage; Celtic art or music; Celtic mythology; Books by the Iona Community.

Readers are invited please to contact the Centre for Celtic Spirituality at email: contact@celtic-spirituality. net or telephone 028 3887- 0667 (prefix 048, or 0044-28 using a mobile telephone, from the Republic of Ireland).

Grace Clunie (The Revd Armagh BT61


Columns and Features

  • Focus on Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh
  • Soap – Down at St. David’s
  • Musings – Alison Rooke – Flags and things


Book Reviews

  • JESUS AND PETER Author: Michael Perham Publisher: SPCK; pp.111
  • BARAKA … JOURNEYS TO AFRICA Author: Canon James Carson Publisher: Impact Printing; pp124 Price: £10
  • The Lion’s World Author: Rowan Williams Publisher: SPCK
  • Justification : Five Views Editors: James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy Publisher: SPCK; pp.319


News Extra

  • Archbishop Clarke welcomes new Roman Catholic Armagh Coadjutor
  • Chair of Church of England House of Laity survives ‘no confidence’ motion
  • Evangelical leader, Steve Chalke, supports same-sex relationships