COI Gazette – 2nd September 2016

Faith-based advocacy has contributed to UN report’s call to ban nuclear weapons, says WCC official


Peter Prove

A United Nations working group’s report, adopted on 19th August and calling for the negotiation of “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons” was partly the fruit of “faith-based advocacy” work, Peter Prove, international affairs director of the World Council of Churches, has said.

The report also calls for negotiations to be “open to all states”.

These were key points in the report adopted by the UN working group of more than 100 countries meeting in Geneva.

The report with its ground- breaking recommendations was adopted by a three-to- one margin with broad inter- regional support despite a boycott by the nuclear powers and strong resistance from their allies.

The working group’s report will go to the UN General Assembly this October. A majority-led resolution to start negotiating a nuclear weapon ban treaty is now likely to emerge there.




Last week, the leaders of the Eurozone’s most powerful nations, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s François Hollande and Italy’s Matteo Renzi, met on board the Italian aircraft carrier, Garibaldi, off the island of Ventotene close to Naples to plan for the 16th September EU summit in Bratislava and to discuss current EU concerns, not least the aftermath of the UK’s 23rd June referendum vote to leave the Union. The Bratislava summit is being styled as informal as the UK will not be represented, in order to allow the other nations to discuss more freely how they will respond to the unexpected new situation.

The ‘Big Three’ leaders visited the island of Ventotene to pay their respects at the grave of one of the earliest proponents of the vision of a federal Europe, Altiero Spinelli, who wrote the Ventotene Manifesto of 1941 with Ernesto Rossi. Both men had been anti-fascists and were being held as prisoners on the island at the time. In the landmark document they looked forward to a united Europe which would be at peace with itself.

Shortly before the UK referendum, the European Affairs Committee of the Irish Council of Churches, in its booklet, The Irish Churches and the EU Referendum, pointed to the “desirability of the UK staying within the EU”, and the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin both voiced warnings about the consequences of a Brexit vote. The Churches naturally share the vision of peace, while some commentators maintain that post- World War II peace in Europe has been achieved more by NATO than the EU. It is a contested subject but there is no doubt that the EU has brought its Member States closer to one another in many ways.

How the UK and the rest of the EU deal with the  Brexit situation is a subject that will occupy many column inches in newspapers for a long time to come but it is a matter of some concern that Mrs Merkel, Mr Hollande and Mr Renzi seem to be taking a lead in a way that marginalises the other EU Member States. That criticism was heard, particularly from eastern Europe, after they held a joint meeting in Berlin, at Mrs Merkel’s invitation, in the immediate wake of the British vote; European Council President Donald Tusk was also included by the German Chancellor in the talks. It is hardly a good approach if other countries are not to feel somewhat sidelined by a small, top group and one wonders precisely what Spinelli and Rossi would have made of such moves.

Looking forward, the Churches naturally want whatever new relationship that emerges between the UK and the EU to be characterised by good relations with a positive focus on the many common interests and concerns. One issue – that of climate change policies – has been highlighted by the Bishop of Salisbury (report, page 12). In the island of Ireland, our many ties across the Border will need to be carefully guarded and it is to be hoped that Dublin, Belfast and London will see to it that the ease of movement and commerce right across Ireland is preserved. It will not be an easy task but, happily, the will seems to be there. The many achievements of the peace process need to be nurtured, bonds need to be strengthened – not jeopardised – and jobs need to be protected. These are essential priorities and it is to be hoped that the other EU leaders will see the importance of helping us all forward.


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World News

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Letters to the Editor


MOIRA THOM’S excellent article under the heading, ‘Earthrise’, in the Gazette of 26th August, reminds me of the time some years ago when I was studying for a postgraduate diploma at Cliff College, Derbyshire.

In the library of the college there is a large, unique, coloured photograph. It is of the earth and it was taken from the moon during the historic landing of 1969.

The photograph is signed by Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, one of the astronauts, but he had added a footnote: “God walking on the earth more important than man walking on the moon.”

Even though he was at the cutting edge of science, fulfilling the centuries-old dream of humankind somehow to set foot on the moon, what he wrote showed that he had a different understanding of the importance of the moon landing to that of President Nixon who had declared it to be the “greatest event in the history of mankind”.

Historic though it was, it could never come near the significance of Christ living on the earth and of the importance that has had for humankind ever since.

Peter T. Hanna (The Revd) Innishannon

Co. Cork

Countering racist attacks

IN THE light of the racist attacks following the UK referendum on EU membership, I would let Gazette readers know that there are many people doing their best to offer the hand of friendship to international people.

I am a volunteer host for HOST UK and I occasionally invite adult international students at UK universities to spend a weekend with me in my home.

It’s a wonderful way for me to learn about different cultures, but also for the students to experience a friendly welcome, and to receive a positive taste of life in Northern Ireland.

Over the years, I have welcomed students from Iran, China, Malaysia, Germany and USA.

The work of HOST has always been very important but is even more so following these very sad events.

I would urge anyone interested in doing their part to show solidarity and friendship to international people to get in touch with HOST UK at www., or by calling 020 7739 6292.

We can all do our part to make this country, and the world, a little friendlier.
Nola Nixon

Tandragee Co. Armagh

Resources from Select Committee on Human Sexuality

I UNDERSTAND that the Three Study Modules on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, produced for the Select Committee on the subject, are shortly to be issued to all parishes with encouragement to take part in “listening and learning” events locally between now and Christmas.

How these events are to be arranged is unclear and prevailing attitudes in different dioceses do beg the question of how balanced these events can possibly be expected to be.

Much will depend on how participants are recruited and the involvement of trained facilitators – and also on leadership and motivation. Disappointingly, the Study Modules offer no hint as to how to read the biblical texts provided, taking into account the wider biblical context as well as the historical and sociological one.

Two resources which would help with this are the 100- page paperback, Amazing Love (ed. Andrew Davison, DLT 2016), produced to assist the Church of England ‘Shared Conversations’, and the BACI Lent 2015 Bible Studies on Same-Sex Issues and the Bible, outlining alternative but equally respectful approaches to the texts.

Amazing Love contains a  particularly helpful chapter ‘Being Biblical’, as well as the thought-provoking ‘Being Missional’.

Other titles will be suggested, no doubt, but I can vouch for these two being respectful to all concerned.

Using one or both alongside the Study Modules may help us leave behind the toxicity of these issues and reach a point at which we can all more easily seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6: 8).

Ginnie Kennerley (Canon) Dalkey Co. Dublin


Book Review


Author: Denis Metrustery Publisher: Paternoster Price: £24.99


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