Royal visit ‘unique and historic occasion’ – Archbishop Harper at Cathedral service
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended an ecumenical service of thanksgiving in St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the first day of last week’s historic, twoday Royal visit to Northern Ireland.
The service, with a congregation of over 750 present, was conducted by the Dean of Clogher, the Very Revd Kenneth Hall who, accompanied by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Alan Harper, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, and the Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd John McDowell, welcomed the Royal visitors to the Cathedral.
THE QUEEN’S DIAMOND JUBILEE VISIT
In the run-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland last week (report, pages 1 and 5), there had been much speculation as to whether or not Martin McGuinness would meet and greet Her Majesty. Then, when it was announced that he would do so on the second day of the Queen’s two-day visit, there were positive reactions in most quarters.
However, events in Enniskillen on the first day were also striking, although in a different way. The service in St Macartin’s Cathedral, the Queen’s visit to the neighbouring St Michael’s Roman Catholic parish church, and her meeting with survivors of the 1987 Remembrance Day bomb all brought a unique sense of healing to the local and wider community. In his sermon in St Macartin’s, the Archbishop of Armagh both acknowledged the Christian example of the Queen over her sixty years on the throne and spelt out a Christian vision of the way forward in Northern Ireland.
Not that long ago, ‘choreography’ was a frequently used term to describe the way in which the peace process proceeded. The strategic timing of events was aimed at moving the peace process forward and very largely succeeded in doing so. However, the eventual meeting of Martin McGuinness with the Queen last week, rather than being seen as part of a wider choreography, is better appreciated as an event which, in a very definite way, marked the reaching of a most significant stage of relationshipbuilding in the peace process. That meeting was not the end of the peace process but, hopefully, will lead on to a yet deeper engagement on the part of all concerned. Indeed, in a quite separate event towards the end of last month – at the Dromantine Inter-Church Gathering (report, page 16) – the Bishop of Meath and Kildare called for such a deepening of the work for peace.
A hint as to the nature of the next, deeper phase of peacemaking and reconciliation in Northern Ireland has already appeared, following a speech at last May’s Sinn Féin Ard Fheis when Mr McGuinness told of unofficial dialogue between republicans and what he described as “a very significant group of Protestants and unionists”. These talks had started after the former Methodist President, the Revd Harold Good, took up earlier public comments by Sinn Féin figures in which they had referred to “a new approach and the need for healing, to find ways to say sorry to each other for the hurt that has been caused”. It would seem that these comments had in turn arisen, at least in part, from the striking apology voiced by Prime Minister David Cameron for what had happened on Bloody Sunday.
This is the process of reconciliation at a really deep level, far beyond political choreography, and it is an integral part of the continuing work of peace that is necessary for a truly shared future.
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Letters to the Editor
General Synod resolution on human sexuality
The Revd Dr Alan McCann wants to tell “them” about Jesus; the Revd Peter Hanna calls for a tolerance he declares he himself practises (Letters, 22nd June).
I fear both evince a separatism that no doubt both will declare to be ‘biblical’.
There are others, however, who would seek to share and encourage the pilgrimages of all in our God-created – and, in Christ, God-shared – diversity; and others still who cry out for a justice that might only result if we can find the courage to abandon the instinct to objectify that is based rather more on primordial fear than it is on sound exegesis.
We are not called to tolerate ‘them’. We are called to love.
Rupert Moreton (The Revd) Cork
I do not intend to enter into a long and protracted correspondence with Canon Kennerley through the pages of the Gazette (Letters, 15th, 22nd and 29th June).
My reply (22nd June) to the original Changing Attitude Ireland letter (15th June) was to put in the public domain factual information to correct information being promoted by CAI. It was also to challenge publicly CAI to correct these inaccuracies and to seek its help in curtailing the vitriolic abuse of individuals, including myself, on social media networks. It is difficult to listen when you are being verbally abused.
As I said in my original letter, many of us listen to people who would identify as gay, but we do not wish to parade such pastoral situations publicly or to use them for our own agendas.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that at no point in any correspondence or public statements has anyone from the ‘orthodox’ position denied the pain and hurt that has been experienced by those for whom CAI claims to speak.
Canon Kennerly and CAI assume, incorrectly, that I (and others) are not listening to their pain. We are, and we choose to do so away from the glare of publicity.
Alan McCann (The Revd Dr) Carrickfergus
I refer to the short note (Gazette, 15th June) in response to a letter written by Tim Bracken from Cork enquiring about the possible new status of divorced persons as understood within the context of the recent General Synod resolution on Human Sexuality.
The note, containing an official statement in response to your enquiry, read: “It is the understanding of the Archbishop of Armagh that the resolution passed at General Synod does not in any way affect the status of those who remarry after divorce as covered by the totality of Canon 31.”
I feel this is a very important issue and one that appears to have been missed amidst other concerns at General Synod.
Quite apart from my personal concerns about the Archbishop of Armagh being presented to us as the purveyor and final judge of all matters in regards to doctrine and Church policy, I would have thought that this issue would have been flagged by canon lawyers and variously elected committees, comprising the people of the congregations of the Church of Ireland, rather than being pushed through General Synod at the last minute by an Archbishop, one other Bishop, and supported by a number from the House of Bishops.
The very fact that this shoddy bit of ill-thought and badly-prepared doctrine had to be changed at the last minute and resubmitted on the final day of Synod should have flagged it as an issue that required more careful thought.
Mr Bracken is not the only divorcee in the Church who is concerned that this resolution has altered his status within the Church and has effectively been a conservative approach to divorce sneaked in through the back door.
Surely this possible change in doctrine for the Church should have gone through more appropriate channels and the change clearly stated for all concerned before it was passed at General Synod?
The question is, if this was not done, why not?
Andrew McCroskery Dublin 4
The situation in Greece
I would like to thank Canon Bradshaw for his fair-minded and illuminating article on Greece (Gazette, 29th June). Those of us who have encountered the pain, despair and anger felt by many people in Greece today will be grateful for the way he places it in context.
It is also good to be told what the Churches are doing to respond to this grim situation. Thank you also for your humane editorial.
George Woodman Belfast
Features and Columns
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