COI Gazette – 26th September

Scottish Primus pledges Scottish Episcopal Church to post-referendum reconciliation ministry

Scottish Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth

Scottish Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth

Following last week’s Scottish independence referendum, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, speaking on behalf of the Church’s College of Bishops, said: “The people of Scotland have decided that Scotland will continue to be part of the grouping of nations which make up the United Kingdom.

“The Scottish Episcopal Church is an historic Scottish Church. Our story is interwoven with the story of Scotland. We commit ourselves to working with all the people of Scotland as our relationships with our neighbours continue to evolve.

“We hold particularly in our hearts and in our prayers today those for whom this decision brings a feeling of hopes dashed and vision lost. With our partner Churches and all in the faith communities, we pledge ourselves to work for reconciliation and pray for healing in our community.”


 

Editorial

THE PILGRIMAGE OF JUSTICE AND PEACE

While the Archbishop of Canterbury was in São Paulo, Brazil, earlier this month, he spoke to the WCC’s communication liaison officer for Latin America, Marcelo Schneider, about “the pilgrimage of justice and peace” – a concept found in a call to Christians and others of goodwill from the 10th Assembly of the WCC held last year in Busan, Republic of Korea. He declared that “a global Church that seeks afresh the presence of Jesus Christ will find itself centred by the Spirit in a pilgrimage of justice and peace and will change the world”.

Reflecting on his experience in visiting different parts of the world, Archbishop Welby commented: “The more I travel, I observe that the world is less capable of dealing with the diversity. Rather than embracing the ‘other’ who is different, it seems we grab each other by the throat.” It was a vivid comment and perhaps revealed some frustration on the Archbishop’s part with the way he sees, time and again through his travels, an unwillingness of people to be open-minded when it comes to others whose background – whether that be in terms of race, religion, nationality, or whatever – is other than their own. This tendency towards what might be described as sectarianism writ large seems to be pervasive throughout humanity. While diplomatic and, in the last resort, military intervention may at times be needed, the real problem goes to the spiritual heart of human life: we do need to be born anew, ‘from above’, if we are to find a direction in life that will lead us away from conflict and in a more godly direction.

In his comments to Dr Schneider, Archbishop Welby referred to various armed conflicts in different countries, but he also pointed out that the issue of the environment is another aspect of conflict, recalling that when he was in the Solomon Islands, a country that has recently been at war and is searching for reconciliation, he observed that the “overwhelming issue” there is rising sea levels (Gazette editorial, ‘Sea Levels’, last week). Indeed, there was some recent good news on this front, with a report published by researchers from the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme indicating that the ozone layer is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion. The BBC reported scientists as saying that the recovery is “entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone”.

Regarding relations with Islam, Archbishop Welby said that they were complicated “because there is this particular, very small minority, who are incredibly dangerous”, adding: “One danger is to simplify what is an incredibly complicated problem. The other danger is to think that we can deal with this quickly.” He rightly warned that meeting the challenge was going to take years of building relationships and, in particular, giving young people new spiritual vision.

Justice and peace belong together – justice enabling peace to be established, and peace providing the environment in which justice can be consolidated. These are themes that, as Archbishop Welby has highlighted, are very much at the heart of the Church’s witness in the world. For that reason, the WCC, at its Busan Assembly, aptly referred to “the pilgrimage of justice and peace”.


 

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Letters to the Editor

Academic Selection in NI

It was good that you published the well-founded Church leaders’ rebuff of Northern Ireland Education Minister John O’Dowd’s criticism of academic selection (Gazette, 12th September).

I lived in Sheffield in the 1960s when the then advocates of fair play in education were creating comprehensive schools. What has happened in Sheffield since is that if parents can afford houses in the postcode area S10, they can get their sons, aged 11 to 18, into the very successful comprehensive King Edward VII school.

In England, comprehensive education is a postcode lottery which has been most unfair. Public grammar schools are fairer and pick the most able children in a wide range in their area, and seek to make the most they can of them.

Education needs more research, but Minister O’Dowd needs to take very seriously the wonderful research done by the UK’s Good Schools Guide Company.

I am interested to see that in future more mentoring will be given to children in the Shankill, and I wish them well. The aim of education should be to make the best of each child and, for better or for worse, that starts in the home.

Sinn Féin have certainly no quick fix for the disadvantaged, but their misguided actions can do a lot of damage.

Edwin Fleming Portstewart BT55

Pastoral Visiting

May another former Dean of St Patrick’s support Dean Griffin (Gazette, 25th July) on the subject of pastoral visiting? The main problem of the Church of Ireland is nonattendance.

This was always the case in the North and is now also the case in the South. It is usually caused by the failure of the present generation of churchgoers to pass on the Christian faith to the younger generation.

Systematic visiting by the clergy, both to churchgoers and non-churchgoers, ought to be one remedy for this. Having had both urban and rural parishes, I know that this is quite possible and that the clergy are always welcome.

The bishops seem strangely unconcerned about the matter.

I believe it to be essential. Robert MacCarthy (The Very Revd) Dublin 8

Enjoying the Gazette

Each Sunday, after I have prepared a fresh pot of coffee and selected a tasty bite, I sit down and open the pages of the Gazette, being assured that there will be worthwhile items to read and some perhaps to ponder.

Never have I been disappointed in the articles that have been penned by Alison Rooke, Ron Elsdon, Stephen Neill and Patrick Towers. In their own inimitable ways, they challenge and channel my way of thinking and living. Thank you.

What was it that the master said to the servant? … Oh, yes: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Rachael Davenport Gorse Lane BT51

Richard Hooker

Your recent editorial on the Elizabethan theologian Richard Hooker (8th August) includes the story that his The Laws of Ecclesiatical Polity was praised by Pope Clement VIII.

This tale derives from Izaak Walton’s brief life of Hooker.

That should be reason enough to doubt the veracity of the story: Walton wrote over half a century after Hooker’s death and he is notorious for inaccuracy. Furthermore, it would seem implausible that a Counter- Reformation Pope would have uttered unqualified praise of a book by a Church of England divine.

It is the details of Walton’s account which make the story virtually incredible. According to Walton, Hooker’s book was brought to the attention of Cardinal William Allen by the recusant theologian Thomas Stapleton. Allen then (Walton claimed) introduced Stapleton to the Pope and Stapleton translated part of Hooker orally into Latin for the pontiff’s benefit.

However, there is no evidence either that Stapleton ever visited Rome during the 1590s or that he translated Hooker. (The first four books of The Laws appeared in 1593; Allen died the next year, and Stapleton in 1598.)

The story of Clement VIII’s enthusiasm for Hooker therefore cannot be given much credit.

C. D. C. Armstrong Belfast BT12


 

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