Church must avoid ‘constant grumbling’ over difficult situation facing schools, Dublin and Glendalough Synods told
Archbishop Michael Jackson reviewed a busy year in the life of the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough in his Presidential Address at their Diocesan Synods held in Taney Parish Centre, Dundrum, on 16th and 17th October.
Speaking on the theme of relationships, responsibility and the road ahead, the Archbishop highlighted several developments and projects which, he believed, symbolized both the confidence of members of the Dioceses and their commitment to travel in new directions.
Dr Jackson outlined a shift in focus of the Board of Social Responsibility which is now giving greater prominence to practical approaches.
He noted that the Board was concentrating on the Solas Project – based in the Liberties area of Dublin – which was reaching out to the community in a spirit of trust and action and creating relationships with members of that community.
A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR EUROPE, AN IRISH CENSUS AND A NEW MISSION TO THE WEST
There is no doubt that the European Union has been much concerned not only with consolidating post- World War peace in Europe but also with peace throughout the world. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, along with others, has therefore rightly congratulated the EU on being the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Tveit said that the award came as “an encouragement to focus on the values of peace, justice and solidarity in the search for a viable and vital future”. These congratulatory words, however, prompt some deeper thoughts of a specifically religious nature.
The highly secularised environment in the EU today should be a matter of deep concern for the Church. In the Republic of Ireland, while last week the Census 2011 report from the Central Statistics Office showed the Church of Ireland to be growing, it also showed that the same is true for those identifying themselves as of no religion. In fact, there are now more than twice as many people recorded as of no religion as there are people recorded as Church of Ireland (277,237 and 129,039 respectively). There is certainly no room for complacency when one considers these stark facts.
The values of peace, justice and solidarity, to which Dr Tveit referred, are certainly religious concerns, but they are not distinctively religious, let alone distinctively Christian. They are concerns that anyone, believer or not, can embrace. They are good concerns, good goals, but they can be just as secular as they can be religious.
Then again, Christian people know that there can be no “viable” or “vital” future – to use Dr Tveit’s words again – without Jesus Christ. Such a world would be a lonely, hopeless and cold world, a world hungry and thirsty in its deepest being and yet not knowing where to turn to find that hunger and that thirst satisfied. A world without any knowledge of the love of God in Christ – how viable and how vital can it really be?
The challenge facing the Church in the EU today is to step up to the plate and actually set about giving the EU its much needed ‘soul’, bringing the Christian faith back to the centre and heart of the concerns of the citizens of all its member-States. This is the Christian mission. It is about doing the good work of promoting justice and peace and solidarity, yes, but it is also about much, much more. It is also about bringing people to the knowledge and love of the God who has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ and whose Holy Spirit never fails to bring new hope, new strength and new life. This is the triune God who calls each person to himself and to the joyful fellowship of the Church.
The theme of Europe’s spirituality was, indeed, one of the topics that featured in an interview which the well known author and commentator on social and public affairs, Os Guinness, gave to the Gazette last week during the Down and Dromore clergy conference in Co. Donegal. At the conference and in the interview (which can be heard online at Interview 33 at www. gazette.ireland.anglican.org/audio), this ‘global citizen’ spoke about the need for “a third Christian mission to West”, following the original mission and the Celtic-led second mission during the Dark Ages.
Regarding the EU itself, Os Guinness told the Gazette that while it is now a “world leader in laws to do with human rights”, it is not possible to establish freedom and justice and rights simply through law. While it is laudable to be committed to not going to war again, he said, economics and bureaucracy – both characteristic EU preoccupations – are not really about the ‘soul’. In fact, the EU’s “proliferation” of rights runs the danger of trivializing them and, ultimately, devaluing human rights, the most important of which, he said, concern freedom of conscience (including religion), freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
It is surely true that, just as faithful Christian witness succeeded in Europe in the first instance, and then in overcoming the Dark Ages, so too faithful Christian witness can again bring the Christ of faith to the centre and heart of European civilization, to flourish there. This is a true need, a deep need, a need that requires the Church, with every respect for other faiths, to have boldness and confidence in speaking what it knows to be the truth about Jesus. Is the Church really going to allow the Gospel to be ‘dumbed down’ and diminished, to be increasingly marginalized and regarded as certainly respectable but essentially irrelevant? That would surely be a weak outlook, a faithless outlook – and an outlook squarely contradicting the dominical mission lovingly entrusted to the Church, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
- Interfaith seminar tackles ‘unprecedented’ education issues
- Churchmen differ over same-sex attraction issue
- Marriage – ‘a celebration of difference’ Bishop Ken Clarke tells Diocesan Synod
- Youth Update – Fusion@Lisburn Cathedral
- New global financial system needed, say theologians and economists
- Restricting action taken against the Bishop of South Carolina
Letters to the Editor
Marie Stopes abortion clinic opening in Belfast
I commend the Revd Adrian Dorian and the committee he chairs for their public affirmation of the sanctity of human life at all stages (Gazette report, 19th October).
The Marie Stopes organisation, in all of the many jurisdictions in which it operates, is a vociferous proponent of abortion as part of what they euphemistically term “women’s reproductive health”.
It is heartening to know that there is a body within the Church of Ireland willing visibly to take a stand in support of what the Church, from its earliest days, has always seen as a sacred and God-given right, the right to life.
Patrick G. Burke (The Revd) The Rectory Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny
Changing Attitude Ireland at Dublin and Glendalough Synods
Much distress was caused to certain members of Changing Attitude Ireland in charge of a CAI publications stall on the second day of the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Synods on 17th October, when the Archdeacon of Dublin asked them abruptly to dismantle the stall and leave the premises just before the start of the Synods, on the grounds that permission for the stall had been refused.
As it happened, he was misinformed, on account of some confusion regarding the appropriate channels through which stalls are given and granted space at the Synods.
On checking the facts as requested, he recognised and admitted his mistake; so, the CAI stall remained and was well attended by friendly enquirers and customers for the rest of the evening.
The Archdeacon has been gracious enough to apologise to those concerned for an over-hasty approach when he was under pressure, but unfortunately the intense hurt and sense of humiliation to the gay or lesbian people who were present remains. It completely wiped out any sense of gratitude for the Archbishop’s helpful comments in his address regarding the need for sensitivity, consideration and an end to exclusion in this area.
So much pain has been caused to LGBT Church members in the past by homophobic or ignorant attitudes within the Church of Ireland, that what might seem to some a simple mistake or thoughtless approach is felt as a deliberate humiliation and personal rejection.
May I therefore, through the hospitality of your Letters column, beg all Christian people to act and speak with extreme sensitivity in relation to sexuality issues of this kind, being mindful that there is much past rejection, exclusion and indeed cruelty to be atoned for.
Healing of these deep hurts may take many years. In some areas they may be beginning to heal, but the scabs are easily torn off by small acts and hasty words which are insensitive.
Could we all resolve to be more careful, so as to hasten the healing of fellow Christians who have been humiliated and demeaned within our Church?
Ginnie Kennerley (Canon) Chair, Changing Attitude Ireland 4 Seafield Terrace Dalkey Co. Dublin
It is now 2012. Irish society has moved on a great deal, but sadly many institutions, such as the Christian Churches, some government departments and their civil servants, remain in their bunkers.
Such organisations must now come out of their bunkers and properly serve modernday Ireland.
This cannot happen if such institutions remain in a state of denial about the wrongs of the past. The modern-day Irish citizen will not accept this outdated and corrosive culture, which has corrupted our past, blights our current situation and threatens to endanger our future.
As there are more and more citizens who do not consider themselves attached to any branch of Christianity, they therefore do not condone the previous thinking which has shamefully ruled our country, and they are no longer prepared to accept it.
There is no room left for any government minister in modern Ireland today to make national statements purporting to right the wrongs of the past, while continuing to exclude citizens from the minority, Protestant community.
In order to assist all survivors of abuse and all citizens of Ireland to have closure on an horrifically bad and sad chapter of Irish history, which has also affected the Christian Churches in Ireland, government ministers must make statements that embrace all our citizens in an open and inclusive manner, and civil servants must be brought up to speed.
All of our Church leaders in Ireland must also be working to that end. No more must the citizens of Ireland be disadvantaged, irrespective from which denomination they may or may not be from.
The announcement made by Mr Ruairi Quinn regarding the €500,000 memorial for the victims of abuse in Roman Catholic institutions, as recommended by the Ryan report, excludes other citizens. This lack of recognition of the minority group must be consigned to the dustbin of history.
But, thank goodness, the people of Ireland demand an enlightened and allencompassing attitude.
The abused in the Protestant minority have not only had to live with such abuse, but have also suffered the pain and disadvantages due to their abuse not being taken seriously by the State’s civil servants. I have a dream that one day very soon this culture will be no more.
Derek Leinster Chair, Bethany Survivors Group 42 Southey Road Rugby England.
Teacher training changes
In the current state of recession, I can understand that amalgamation of smaller colleges is under consideration, but I cannot understand why the Church of Ireland College of Education (CIC E) is talking to colleges on the north side of Dublin (Gazette report, 14th September).
CICE, and its predecessor, the Church of Ireland Training College, have had a good working relationship with Trinity College Dublin for generations. The Trinity degree is recognised worldwide, and this makes it easy for our graduates to obtain work abroad. Why is CIC E not seeking a closer relationship with TCD ?
St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, needs all the primary schools on the north side for their students to undertake teaching practice. If a merger goes ahead, our students would have to cross Dublin, in the rush hour, to go to primary schools on the south side.
Has any consideration been given to closer amalgamation with Trinity College? It could mean that CICE could remain in Rathmines, and would maintain its ethos. Rosemary Bourne
CICE Secretary, 1962-2003 Forttown Tinahely Co.Wicklow
Columns & Features
- Sam Wynn, Diocesan Communications Officer for Cork, Cloyne and Ross, contributes this month’s Diocesan Focus article.
- Soap – Down at St. David’s
- Musings – Alison Rooke – Farewell, my country …
- First official history of Co. Armagh parish launched
- Toronto church leader to visit Dublin parish
- St Patrick’s canons installed
- MU welcomes Republic’s children’s rights referendum
- Transferor Churches welcome progress on Education Bill