Bishop Kenneth Kearon consecrated for Limerick and Killaloe
“Life as a bishop is like a ride on a zip wire,” the Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said in his sermon at the Service of Consecration and Ordination of Canon Kenneth Kearon as the new Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe which took place in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last Saturday (24th January).
“Just as zip wire riders need someone to launch them at the start and haul them in at the end,” Archbishop Morgan said, “so too a bishop sets people off on their sometimes daunting journeys of faith and holds them safe as they travel.”
More than that, though, he added: “A bishop is someone who climbs on board the ride first – to lead by example.”
FIGURES IN CHURCH HISTORY – 43 JAMES USSHER (1581-1656)
James Ussher, probably the greatest of all post- Reformation Archbishops of Armagh, was born in Dublin in 1581 into a prosperous, Anglo-Irish family. A gifted student, he was educated at the Dublin Free School and Trinity College (then newly-founded), where he became a Doctor of Divinity and Professor of Theological Controversies and, later, Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Provost.
A convinced Calvinist, although a strong supporter of episcopacy, Ussher is widely believed to have been responsible for drawing up the 104 Irish Articles of 1615 which maintained the doctrine of double predestination and described the Bishop of Rome as “the man of sin foretold in the holy Scriptures”. These Articles were superceded in 1634 by the (English) Thirty-nine, the 1615 Irish Articles not being formally abolished but ceasing to be used.
Ussher’s Calvinism did not preclude a strong adherence to royal authority and the doctrine of the divine right of kings. He was highly respected by King James I – who made him, successively, Bishop of Meath and Archbishop of Armagh – and by Charles I. Fiercely antagonistic to Roman Catholic teaching, much of his energy was taken up with theological argumentation, for example, in his Discourse on the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish, upholding the view that the Church of Ireland was the true successor to the Celtic Church.
However, Ussher’s wide-ranging scholarship, which earned him a Europe-wide reputation, included
historical research which established, for example, which of the letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch in the second century AD were genuine and which were not. He was a bibliophile who spent much of his active life in study and was blessed with a facility for languages, ancient and modern, and an extraordinary memory, this leading to his being widely consulted, including, paradoxically, by some leading contemporary Roman Catholic scholars. It is unfortunate that many people associate him exclusively with his unsuccessful attempt to work out the date of creation (he thought it happened in 4004) from a literal reading of the Bible.
Ussher had wide sympathies with other Protestant Churches, especially the Dutch Calvinists, and was a benefactor to the (persecuted) Waldensians. When the rising of 1641 occurred, he fled to England and never returned, but such was the respect in which he was held by both sides in the Civil War that he was able to travel fairly freely from one side to the other and was allowed to minister to Charles I in his imprisonment and to be present at his martyrdom.
Although Anglicanism and The Book of Common Prayer were proscribed by Cromwell, and episcopacy was abolished, when Ussher died, he was given a state funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey.
This editorial is one in a series of occasional reflections on figures in Church history, following a chronological sequence as they appear.
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Letters to the Editor
Families funding second-level education
BISHOP STOREY, while rightly speaking for the many Protestant families who make significant sacrifices to fund their children’s second-level education at Protestant- managed boarding schools, believes that parents are “less and less inclined” to send their children to such schools due to the costs involved (Gazette report, 16th January).
As Principal of the Diocesan College of the Cashel, Ferns and Ossory diocese, I am delighted to be able to provide strong evidence to the contrary.
Kilkenny College will have 84 boarding students entering 1st Form next September, of a projected total of 410 boarders. They are young women and men whose parents continue to see the quality of the
education, pastoral care and personal development opportunity this College provides.
Our boarding numbers are rising and 2015 will, for the first time, see more girls enter 1st Form than boys.
Why? The answer is quite straightforward. The decision to remove tuition fees and enter the ‘Free Scheme’ means that a significantly greater number of families can avail of the Boarding option at Kilkenny. 60% of our students’ families now receive Secondary Education Committee grant funding. The maximum grant now stands at €7,629. The annual Boarding fee is capped at €7,995. A family in receipt of maximum grant can have their child board at Kilkenny for a nett cost of €366.
There is no doubt that Protestant-managed boarding schools have to be vigorous in ensuring that the characteristic spirit of a school is maintained in a manner that allows maximum possible access to those families who wish their children to be educated within them.
Kilkenny College’s happy recent experience is that many Protestant families continue to be inclined, indeed determined, to have a Protestant-managed boarding education for their children when this balance is achieved. Simon Thompson
Kilkenny College Castlecomer Road Kilkenny
Charlie Hebdo murders
HAVING STUDIED other faiths – and having worked many years with their members – I am uneasy about some reaction to the Charlie Hebdo outrage.
Of course, the journalists’ murder was a serious crime, a bloodthirsty revenge contrary to the principles of Christianity and other religions and damaging to the reputation, not only of Islam but also of all faiths. It provides ammunition for those claiming religion breeds hate.
However, had I been in Paris on 11th January, my placard would have read Je suis Juif or Je suis Ahmed, not Je suis Charlie.
While undeniably an atrocity, the journalists’ murders cannot rank as high on the Richter scale of terrorism as 9/11, 7/7, the Madrid bombings or the Nigerian massacres about which our media are saying relatively little.
The 12 Charlie victims were not random members of the public. They had chosen to do something they knew was inflammatory and were prepared to take the risks.
Many admire them for doing so. However, others might consider publishing the cartoons to have been in poor taste and of doubtful wisdom.
I believe all religions should be critically examined, seriously and sensitively, but not mocked. Ecclesiastical personnel can and should be satirised, like politicians and other professionals, because it is in society’s interest that pretension, affectation and hypocrisy be ridiculed wherever they occur.
This is different from mocking religious beliefs and founders of religions.
BBC’s Newsnight showed examples of Charlie’s other cartoons and I found them merciless and obscene.
The outcry against the Charlie murders is fuelled not just by common humanity but also by the perceived need to defend free expression. However, as Vince Cable MP highlighted on BBC’s 8th January Question Time, freedom of expression is not absolute in Western democracies.
One cannot make unsubstantiated defamatory statements or incite racial hatred. Also, in many countries, Holocaust denial, homophobic pronouncements and degrees of obscenity are prohibited.
It is often difficult to distinguish denigrating an ethnic group and denigrating a religion, as some faith groups are virtually identical with specific ethnicities. Cartoons of the Prophet emphasising Arab features could be considered racist.
Charlie’s reappearance with a cover cartoon of the Prophet proclaims belief that every limitation of free expression must be fought – perhaps literally – to the death. I disagree.
There are serious issues with some Muslim groups. These include aspects of the position of women in society, forced marriages, ‘honour’ killings and female genital mutilation.
Some Muslims are courageously campaigning on these fronts, maintaining that these practices are unIslamic.
Maintaining silence on genuinely worrying issues perpetuates suffering; refraining from visual depiction of Mohammed causes harm to nobody and respects the feelings of others.
Why risk alienating our Abrahamic cousins for something that means little to us but may prejudice debates on crucial issues?
Katherine Dowds, Dublin
The Church, the Constitution and same-sex marriage
BY THE end of this year, same-sex marriage will, in all probability, be a reality in the Republic of Ireland. The introduction of such marriage will require a constitutional amendment and a referendum of the people will be held in May.
According to opinion polls, there is overwhelming public support for the introduction of such marriage and it appears that there is also overwhelming support for it within the government and, indeed, all the major parties in the Dáil.
In the Republic of Ireland, the written Constitution is the supreme legal authority and all legislation must comply with its terms in order to be constitutional. If legislation is found to be unconstitutional, it will be impugned by the High Court and Supreme Court and struck down.
The effect of a constitutional amendment allowing same- sex marriage would be to grant to the citizen a right to contract a marriage with a person of the same sex. This would be enshrined in the Constitution and would effectively become a constitutional right to such marriage.
A constitutional right for one citizen implies a duty in others and vice versa. There are important dicta from the Courts to the effect that the existence of a constitutional right for one person implies a duty of others to respect it and that such rights are enforceable, not only as against the State but also as against a private individual (cf. Educational Company of Ireland v Fitzpatrick (No. 1)  IR 323).
Pursuant to the terms of the Civil Registration Act 2004, and in particular Section 51, a marriage may be solemnised by, and only by, a registered solemniser. Church of Ireland clergy are registered as solemnisers under the provisions of this Act.
Same-sex marriage is available in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, in Section 2, allows an opt-out, specifically stating that there is no compulsion on a solemniser to solemnise any marriage.
This is legal in the United Kingdom, which does not have a written constitution and where the right to marry is not a constitutional right but one granted by statute, as is civil partnership in the Republic of Ireland. However, the situation in Republic of Ireland is completely different.
The right to marry a person of the same sex would be granted as a constitutional right and therefore there would be a correlative duty on the part of the solemniser not to infringe that right.
One might anticipate that, if the clergy of the Church of Ireland (or, indeed, any denomination) were to refuse to conduct a same-sex marriage in accordance with the right of the citizen under the Constitution, then the licence to conduct marriage as a registered solemniser may be removed from that person or, indeed, worse still, we may have the unedifying situation of the clergy and the Church being brought through the Courts by way of judicial review, which case may ultimately end up in the Supreme Court.
Tim Bracken Cork
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