COI Gazette – 9th October 2015

Ecumenical document on the Church is result of ‘profound listening’, WCC Faith and Order Moderator tells Gazette


The Revd Dr Susan Durber

Speaking to the Gazette after a recent consultation on the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission’s milestone document, The Church: Towards a Common Vision, Commission Moderator, the Revd Dr Susan Durber, said that it had been the fruit of a process of “profound listening over years”.

She added that it had required “patience and revision and careful polishing and finding new ways of saying things”, as well as “imagination and generosity”.

Gazette editor, Canon Ian Ellis, represented the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue at the 24th-25th September High Leigh, Hertfordshire, consultation, which was organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Dr Durber was speaking to the editor for the Gazette after the consultation had concluded.

In the course of her comments, Dr Durber said that bridging the sometimes very wide differences in ecclesiological understanding among the Churches was possible: “I do believe it is possible because I’ve seen, in the quality of the conversation, people growing in appreciation of one another’s traditions.”




Last week, it was widely suggested that Pope Francis may visit Ireland in 2018 in connection with the Roman Catholic Church’s triennial World Meeting of Families which was announced as due to be held in Dublin in that year. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told RTÉ that he would discuss the matter at the current Synod of Bishops in Rome and that it may be known within the next three weeks if Francis will come to Ireland, adding that the Pope has a concern for Ireland in relation to the damage caused by the child sex abuse scandal.

A papal visit is, necessarily, a costly affair, yet Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Minister Richard Bruton and Minister Jan O’Sullivan have all said that Pope Francis would be very welcome in Ireland. The last papal visit to Ireland was that of Pope St John Paul II in 1979.

The editor of The Irish Catholic, Michael Kelly, told BBC Radio Ulster that he expected Pope Francis to attend the scheduled World Meeting of Families in Dublin, commenting: “If you look back on these previous World Meetings of Families, there’s only been once when a Pope hasn’t presided at them, and that was 2003 when John Paul II was quite ill.” Mr Kelly added that, although Pope Francis by 2018 will be in his early 80s (he is currently 78), “he seems in fairly robust health – so I think we can certainly say all being well, he will be here”.

A papal visit always presents the Roman Catholic Church with immense logistical challenges, but also is an opportunity for very fundamental renewal in the Church – and Pope Francis has his own
unique ability to awaken faith and to encourage the faithful to a remarkable extent. A papal visit is, of course, also an ecumenical opportunity and, should Pope Francis come to Ireland, there is no doubt that his visit would have a significant ecumenical dimension. That was, indeed, the case with the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which the Roman Catholic Church held in Ireland in 2012. Speaking at that occasion, Archbishop Michael Jackson said: “Baptism enables distinct Christian communities to have not simply parallel lives but a shared life ‘conjoined in the missionary purpose of God’ [The Toronto Report]. The ministry and mission of God in the Church for the world is the responsibility of all God’s people.”

At the time of John Paul II’s visit, there was considerable speculation as to whether he would also visit Northern Ireland. It was, indeed, a very troubled time, in particular with the IRA’s murder of Lord Mountbatten and three members of his party on a boat off Co. Sligo two weeks before the Pope’s visit. The nearest that John Paul came to Northern Ireland was Drogheda, where he made an impassioned plea to those who had espoused violence to change their ways and also reached out to Protestants in very moving terms.

These are now better times. It is very much to be hoped that if Francis does come to Ireland he will also take time to come North of the border, where he would, without doubt, be most warmly welcomed by the overwhelming majority of people across the whole community.


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Letters to the Editor

The Anglican Church in North America

IT IS unfortunate that, in recent correspondence, the Revd Rupert Moreton demonstrates both inconsistency and ignorance in equal measure (Letter, 2nd October).

He demonstrates inconsistency in that, as a cleric from another province (assuming from the address supplied), he is commenting negatively upon what he suggests is tantamount to a pattern of supposed incursion by another party into another province’s ministry, notwithstanding his having once been in this province. In my view, his actions capture what he criticises another for doing.

He also demonstrates ignorance in that the Diocese of South Carolina is not part of the Anglican Church in North America, as he states. In fact, were Mr Moreton to acquaint himself with the most basic of facts relating to the Diocese of South Carolina, he might understand that that diocese pre-existed the formation of The Episcopal Church (TEC) by a number of years, a point well made during the unsuccessful litigation brought against them by TEC.

Might it be argued, therefore, that the Diocese of South Carolina remains in fellowship with other Anglican Christians across the Communion, whilst not being part of The Episcopal Church – the latter being a later creation?

Our Preamble and Declaration speaks of maintaining communion with “all other Christian Churches agreeing in the principles of this Declaration” (Section III, The Book of Common Prayer, p.777). In what substantial way has the Diocese of South Carolina and her clergy contravened our own doctrinal principles?

Moreover, it is regrettable that Mr Moreton doesn’t display Christian compassion or any understanding towards those who have been displaced by the ruling elite of The Episcopal Church over several decades. It is well documented that TEC has rejected the most basic of faith commitments. That these actions aren’t, in point of fact, considered by Mr Moreton to be of the very essence of schism is ahistorical at the very least.

Many admirable and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, in churches comprising the Diocese of South Carolina and, indeed, elsewhere in North America, have suffered pain, anguish and significant persecution, as their interdependent relationships have been fundamentally and irrevocably damaged.

Trevor Johnston (The Revd)
All Saints’ Rectory, Belfast BT9
IT WOULD appear that the Revd Rupert Moreton (Letter, 2nd October) has failed to realise the changing reality of the worldwide Anglican family. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is part of the Anglican family, whether he, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury, approves or not.

I recently had the pleasure of hosting the Revd Ted Wood from ACNA at Holy Trinity, Woodburn, and welcomed the opportunity to fellowship with him and to listen to him preach at our morning service.

He spoke with real pain about the divisions caused by the actions of some within The Episcopal Church (USA) and the very difficult decision to break communion with them and to join ACNA.

Listening to him, it was not a decision taken lightly or carelessly, but with much prayer, Bible study and examining of his conscience.

I could only admire him for the journey he had been on and I fear that many in the Church of Ireland wonder if, because of similar actions by some of our
bishops, a similar journey has begunforus.

Further, GAFCON is now viewed by many orthodox Anglicans as the centre of Anglican orthodoxy and the place to seek guidance and oversight. This is as a result of the liberal revisionist agenda of many Western provinces and which was brought to a head by the consecration of Gene Robinson by The Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA), The Episcopal Church ( TEC).

Similar tensions and strains have arisen within the Church of Ireland, not least because of the actions of the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory.

In conclusion, many orthodox Anglicans in Ireland view themselves as in impaired communion, at best, with those who are promoting a different gospel than the gospel of the Scriptures, the 39 Articles and The Book of Common Prayer.

Alan McCann (The Revd Dr) The Rectory Carrickfergus Co. Antrim BT38


The migrant crisis

IN HIS letter to the editor (25th September) about the migrant crisis, Colin Nevin says: “If so many Muslims insist on praying towards the East, surely the East should be solving their problems, not the West.”

I find this implied restriction unacceptable. Indeed, I support the principle of the freedom of movement.

For me, a freedom of movement policy means economic migrants and refugees have the right to live and work where they choose. They do not necessarily have
the right to a guaranteed job or to free accommodation, but they do have the right to rent a place to stay and to apply for a job where they choose.

Furthermore, whatever the circumstances, governments have a duty to provide emergency food and shelter.

Also, Mr Nevin was surprised that at Heathrow “the entire room was filled with ardent Muslims praying fervently on their prayer mats.” As well as being rather surprised, he should, perhaps, have been full of admiration at their  expression of faith.

I attend Church of Ireland services. If others attend services of different religions that does not bother me. Rather, I would be pleased that they find comfort and encouragement in their beliefs.

For me, all religious beliefs are acceptable provided they do not teach discrimination or intolerance.

Robert Irwin Courthouse Cottage, Limerick V94


Clergy and the parish system

IT IS always interesting to reflect how we could do Church better.

I wonder if the terms of clergy linked to the parish system stretching back to the 17th century and beyond do not require a radical rethink in the modern era.

The current system does not seem to register the harm that  can be inflicted when there are long vacancies, not to mention the comfort zone of clergy in a job for life.

In any other walk of life, results are paramount.
Tony Forbes Gilford Co. Armagh BT63

Richard Glossip on ‘death row’

ON 30th SEPTEMBER, Richard Glossip came within hours of death in an Oklahoma prison before being granted a temporary stay of execution – the second time in two weeks that this man had suffered the agony of coming close to the time he was scheduled to die.

He is on death row because the man who admits the killing cut a deal with the prosecution; in return for implicating Richard, he avoided the death penalty himself.

Richard was offered the chance of pleading guilty and avoiding the death penalty also, but he insisted on his innocence at that time and continues to do so.

A new date has been set for his execution, 6th November. During the time he has left, I would urge people to go to the website and sign the petitions there to try and put pressure on the State of Oklahoma to spare his life.

It will only take a few minutes to do so and it could well help prevent Richard from being killed when his next date to die comes around.
Patrick G. Burke (The Revd) The Rectory, Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny



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