COI Gazette – 28th October

Archbishop Michael Jackson makes a presentation to Bishop Chad Gandiya during his visit to the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Synods. (Photo: Garrett Casey)

Front Page

Dr Jackson speaks of Church of Ireland’s contribution to ‘new type of community’

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, has expressed the hope that “as together in Ireland we face into an uncertain, volatile and precarious future, we in the Church of Ireland will make a real contribution to a new type of community”.

Dr Jackson was delivering his first presidential address as Archbishop to the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Synods which took place in the Taney Centre, Dublin, on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th October.

The Archbishop went on to caution that his hope would “demand of us a level of endurance and imagination to which many of us are unaccustomed”.



Coptic Orthodox Christians number approximately 10 per cent of Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim 85 million population. Yet, the Coptic Orthodox Church is very historic, having become a distinct tradition within the Oriental Orthodox family after the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, but looking back yet further to St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt.

The ‘Arab spring’ uprising in Egypt earlier this year saw Christians and Muslims coming together in a remarkable way. It was a considerable struggle that was watched eagerly by the wider world, holding out the hope of a new and more democratic Egypt. Interfaith relations in Egypt had a history of considerable tensions, but here was a sign of what would perhaps be a better future.

Yet, recent riots in Cairo, arising from a demonstration protesting against an attack on a Coptic church in the Aswan province, have come as a major setback for such hopes for a better future. Some 35 people were killed and many more wounded in rioting that was the worst violence since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February.

The Coptic Orthodox do face discrimination in Egyptian law which makes it very difficult for them to obtain permission to build a church. Moreover, the lack of adequate policing and security forces in the country leaves the whole situation vulnerable to violent clashes. Coptic Orthodox fear that the future may, in fact, tend towards a repressive conservative Islamic supremacy and there are other fears that the most recent unrest – with claims of it having been deliberately fuelled in part by the army – may be part of a deliberate strategy of actually encouraging sectarian tensions for reactionary purposes.

It is vital, not only for the good of the Coptic Church and interfaith relations in Egypt but also for the sake of the country’s future, that social stability is fully restored and that those who were responsible for the rioting face proper justice. Pursuing those responsible is important because a clear signal is needed that the vision for the country’s future is one of democracy, freedom and interfaith respect, not autocracy, suppression and sectarianism.

Home News

  • Renovated narthex celebrated at Down Cathedral
  • New clergy and lay ministry appointment at C. of I. Theological Institute
  • Cashel and Ossory Synod – ‘lively, good-humoured, constructive’
  • No ‘second class people in the heart of God’ – Bishop Ken Clarke tells Synod
  • Bishop Good highlights challenges facing community and Church

World News

  • American bishop facing canon law charges
  • WCC supporting Egyptian Churches in their quest for peace

Columns and Features

  • Down At St David’s
  • Focus on Cork, Cloyne and Ross
  • Feature – Faith, hope and newsprint … Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent at The Times, on alcoholism, phone hacking and how the media views religion post-9/11. This feature originally appeared in idea, the magazine of the Evangelical Alliance, and is reproduced here by kind permission.
  • Musings – Alison Rooke –  To thine own self …


Letters to the editor

Civil Partnerships Controversy

CLEARLY MY letter (30th September), with its plea for acceptance and inclusion of those who are different, has touched a raw nerve and rattled some cages.

Mr Brown and the Revd M.W.J. Loney (Letters, 7th October) have difficulty with the idea that Jesus showed the way of ‘live and let live’. Of course, there are things that a Christian society should not ignore, but everything that I read of Jesus in the Gospel narrative points to a Jesus who accepts people as they are.

He is friendly and helpful with the occupying Roman soldiery; he offers companionship to the despised tax collector up the tree; he speaks comforting words to the dying thief; and he refuses to condemn ‘the woman caught in adultery.’

Those instances and others are, to me, strong evidence that Jesus sought to include, rather than exclude, those who were different in one way or another. His harsh words were for the humbugs – those who sought to use the letter of the law to support their case, but failed to take up the spirit of the law.

Then Dr Devitt (Letter, 14th October) offers the opinion that what people did in the privacy of their bedrooms was of significance to Jesus. Does he think that Jesus snooped or went around asking?

Surely the point of the story was that other people (the snoopers?) brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus for an opinion or, more likely, to trap him. What Jesus did was to give them a flea in their collective ear and say to the woman: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

I do not see that Jesus concerned himself with what went on in the private quarters of consenting adults. Nor do I think should we.

Western Europe has, for 2,000 years, been the crucible where Christianity has been worked, developed and lived. We should be grateful that the large number of gay and lesbian people who contribute enormously to the life of our Churches can now be open about their sexuality, no longer fearing exclusion or worse.

We may not be perfect in our Churches or in our society in this part of the world, but I, for one, value the increasing liberal approach to so many matters. It is certainly better than Uganda or Iran or even Texas!
Cecil Mills (Canon), Monkstown Co. Dublin


FOR THE past few weeks, you have chosen to focus specifically on the civil partnership controversy of the Very Revd Tom Gordon, Dean of Leighlin.

It is now 2011. Since the Pastoral letter issued in 2003, what has changed? Nothing. In eight years, no one has come up with an answer to this ‘problem’, so is 2012 going to be any different? I don’t think so.

We have read of the House of Bishops meeting in a secret conclave in Dublin; is it now a version of the Klu Klux Klan?

If this were the Middle Ages, perhaps Tom Gordon would have been burnt at the stake, and my bishop beheaded at Tyburn – shades of Thomas Cranmer and his reforming friends. It really is a case of ‘much ado about nothing’.

All Tom Gordon’s parishioners are totally committed to him; they love him and they pray for him, as do the vast number of Church of Ireland members in his own Diocese and further afield, so it speaks for itself. Also, will those who have called for Bishop Michael Burrows to resign please explain themselves? What has he done that warrants his resignation? Nothing.

To say that the Church of Ireland’s unity is “imperilled” by this controversy (Gazette editorial, 14th October) is going too far. If the Church of Ireland doesn’t move forward quickly and realise that we are living in the 21st century, many other church doors will be open to ‘defectors’.

I know at least five clerics personally who are ‘gay’. If the Church of Ireland doesn’t want to face this fact and cannot cope with it, then my question is: Why are these men selected for ordained ministry in the first place?

The press and everyone else should leave Tom Gordon and Michael Burrows alone and let them get on with what they are best at, which is serving the Lord and spreading the Gospel. At the end of the day, that is their calling, and I’m sure that our dear Lord is quite happy with that.

Patricia Doogue Farnans Ballickmoyler Carlow


Editor – RTE Radio 1, The God Slot: An audio of Gazette editor, Canon Ian Ellis, being interviewed by presenter Eileen Dunne on the civil partnerships controversy is available online at (number 17). 

Liturgical changes

I NOTICE that “And also with you” has now been replaced by “And with your spirit” in the Roman Catholic Mass. Are we likewise to return to the old Book of Common Prayer response “And with thy spirit”?

We were told in TCD Divinity School in the 1940s that this response recognises the spiritual gifts bestowed at ordination to the sacred ministry and therefore has a special significance.

If this is true, the response, “And also with you”, in our contemporary Eucharist is theologically defective, as Rome now admits.

Indeed, the word ‘Also’ in present usage is unnecessary and misplaced, for it breaks the natural sequence and rhythm of the response, which should be, “And with you also”, if it is deemed necessary at all.

The older form of the General Confession is true to our Lord’s priorities (matthew 25: 31 ) by placing sins of omission before sins of commission. The order is reversed in the modern Eucharistic liturgy where “and what we have left undone” not only reverses the order but is also incomplete. (I’m glad I have left some things undone.)

V.G. Griffin (The Very Revd) Limavady BT49 ODW


Secularism the ‘real enemy’?

IN A RECENT Gazette report (issue, 7th October), the Bishop of Tuam is quoted as saying that secularism is the “real enemy” of the Church. Yet, in recent years, due to the waning influence of the Church over Government in the increasingly secular State of the Republic of Ireland, the Government has unveiled years of horrific child abuse perpetrated and covered up by the Church.

I also ask myself: Would the Church, in a position of power, have legislated for the equal rights of women, homosexuals, vulnerable adults and children and people of other faiths in a Bill of Rights? Sadly, I doubt it (if many of the recent letters to this page have been anything to judge by), yet the secular State has.

So, thank God for secularism if it provides space for difference! Maybe, as it seems to give such regard to the human person, it should be relabelled ‘Sacred-ism’.

Grace Clunie ( The Revd) Director – Centre for Celtic Spirituality 8 vicars’ Hill Armagh BT61 7ED

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