COI Gazette – 26th February 2016

First Minister, Taoiseach and British Ambassador together for C. of I. 1916 lectures in Dublin

The Taoiseach and First Minister in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin last week (Photo: Church of Ireland Press Office)

The Taoiseach and First Minister in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin last week (Photo: Church of
Ireland Press Office)

At a event on Wednesday 17th February organised by the Church of Ireland Historical Centenaries Working Group marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, First Minister Arlene Foster, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland Dominick Chilcott sat together in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral to hear two historical lectures on the topic. The keynote speakers were Dr Fearghal McGarry of Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Jason McElligott, Keeper of the Archbishop Marsh Library in Dublin.

The evening event, entitled ‘A state of chassis – Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances in Dublin in 1916’, was chaired by historian and broadcaster Dr John Bowman and was attended by an audience estimated at over 200 people.




On 4th February, MEPs voted in the European Parliament to urge the international community to take “urgent action to counter the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh”.

The MEPs reiterated their “strong condemnation of ISIS [ISIL]/Daesh and its egregious human rights abuses, deliberately targeting Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shi’ites, Shabak, Sabeans, Kaka’e and Sunnis who do not agree with their interpretation of Islam”. The MEPs also indicated that these violations amount to “war crimes”, “crimes against humanity” and “genocide”, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The resolution called on the EU to establish a permanent Special Representative for Freedom of Religion and Belief and urged all countries to prevent war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide within their territory. It was also indicated that all EU member states should “update their legal and jurisdictional systems in order to prevent their nationals and citizens travelling to join ISIS/Daesh and other terrorist organisations and also ensure that, should they do so, they face criminal court proceedings as soon as possible”.

Since the EU Parliament’s resolution, Pope Francis has raised concerns with Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, about the desperate plight of Christians and other minorities in the war-torn country. Euronews reported: “Iraq’s ancient Christian community has been decimated since the militant Islamists of ISIL swept through a third of the nation in 2014 in their drive to build a caliphate. The Iraqi Christian population, thought to number some 1.5 million before the US-led invasion in 2003, is now estimated at less than 300,000.”

It was also reported that, away from the capital, many Christians have fled ISIL-controlled areas, such as the group’s Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, after they were told to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. In response to the EU Parliament resolution, the Conference of European Churches (CEC), of which the Church of Ireland is a full member, issued a statement expressing appreciation of the efforts of Parliament in the matter and pointing out that, in the Middle East region, religious and cultural civilisations “are disappearing day by day”.

The CEC statement added: “With this resolution the European Parliament is sending a strong message to the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court. Upon such a referral the Court can assume jurisdiction. Only then could an investigation of these crimes commence under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). The Genocide Convention obliges state parties to ‘punish’ and ‘prevent’ genocide wherever it occurs via international criminal justice mechanisms. The intention of ISIS is to attack any group that disagrees with their political agenda or view of society. Their intention to destroy social, economic, cultural, religious and moral foundations has been eminently evident from observations made to date.”

CEC rightly urged all concerned to give particular consideration to the religious dimension of the conflict, denouncing the systematic targeting of Christian premises by extreme militants. It is also very much to be welcomed that CEC went further by calling for strong interreligious dialogue to contribute to “social stability, mutual respect and religious tolerance, diversity and peace”.


Home News

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  • Rare source reveals 19th-century conversions in St Audoen’s Church of Ireland, Dublin: Archive of the Month, March 2016
  • Citywide launch of ‘Relentless Prayer’
  • Clogher’s Black Santa makes donation to NSPCC
  • Tribute The Ven W.F. Harley Vanston
  • Dr Susan Hood appointed as new Librarian and Archivist of the RCB Library


In Perspective – Taking time to stand and stare

Insight -American Life: Religious freedom keeps us strong By Barack Obama (via Religion News Service)

Focus on Tuam, Killala and Achonry


Church of England General Synod

English General Synod approves agreement with Church of Scotland

Primates’ Meeting: ‘consequence’, or ‘sanction’?

Plans for more ministry provision

Call for benefits policy review

Evangelism is ‘our duty, privilege and joy’, Archbishop tells English Synod


Letters to the Editor

The Church and same-sex civil marriage

Jacob Lupfer, in his very interesting Insight article (Gazette, 12th February), writes: “Episcopalians, from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry down to everyday priests and lay people, remain resolutely confident that they are on the right side of history.”

What is so great about “being on the right side of history”? History is made up of a gargantuan slice of sin, immorality and human failure. However, being on the right side of God is supremely more important, although very difficult to be sure of at all times.

All we can do is check against the Bible, tradition and reason and, regardless of differences between Christians, continue in the fellowship of study and particularly prayer.

At present, these ‘checks’ tell me that God intends sexual relationships to be within the marriage of one man and one woman. Whatever about lifelong, same-sex relationships, they cannot be ‘marriage’. They can be life-long, loving, faithful and honest – I have some of those – but they cannot be procreative, one of the potential purposes of marriage and extremely important to the purposes of God’s creation. As for the pastoral side of these things, I am very happy to try to adhere to the Lambeth 1998 call “to minister … pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation”.

I have never had any difficulty ministering pastorally to LGBT people, except when they are aggressive about their views (unfortunately fairly often), whilst maintaining my theological views and expressing them honestly and, I hope, sensitively to those I have ministered to.

None have run away so far and many are still friends. It is engaging and challenging but also satisfying to live with difference, which I pray the Anglican Communion and the [US] Episcopal Church can do. Regarding the decision of the Primates to restrict the Episcopal Church’s role in global Anglicanism, the anonymous, if truly 55, Church of Ireland clergy, who purport to support the stance of the Episcopal Church (Gazette report, also 12th February), thankfully endorse the Presiding Bishop in his “exemplary witness in word and behaviour in the face of the announcement of that decision”. So do I, but that’s certainly the way it should be in Christian circles!

I imagine we are all grateful to the our Church’s Commission on sexual matters for their recent report. It helps to keep the study and prayer going.

Colin Hall Thompson (The Revd) Senior Chaplain Mission To Seafarers Princes Dock Street Belfast BT1 3AA


St Thomas’s, Dugort

St Thomas’s church at Dugort, Achill Island, Co. Mayo, is a historic church and will be undergoing further repairs during 2016.

During 2009, extensive internal renovations were carried out and this year we are concentrating on the windows. To the north side (facing the Atlantic), due to their height (approximately 26ft), the windows have been neglected for many years.

A specialist company called Lambstongue Ltd of Dublin has been commissioned to do the work at a cost of €15,500 (including scaffolding).

We are the smallest parish in the Aughaval Group of Parishes and ask all our friends to help us to carry out the essential repairs.

It is anticipated the work will start early in April and take approximately four weeks to complete (subject to Mayo weather).

Any donation would be greatly appreciated and may be sent to me as Hon. Treasurer (cheques payable to St Thomas’s Church, Dugort).

Tim Stevenson, Hon. Treasurer St Thomas’s Church Dugort Achill Co. Mayo (tel. 098-43110)


Book Reviews

THE REVEREND THOMAS GOFF, 1772-1844 – PROPERTY, PROPINQUITY AND PROTESTANTISM Author: David Doyle Publisher: Four Courts Press; pp.71

CHOSEN: The Story of Charlene Barr Author: David Barr Publisher: Charlene’s Project – Price: £8.99


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