New Dean of Belfast looks to the future for St Anne’s
Preaching at his installation as Dean of Belfast in St Anne’s Cathedral last week, the Very Revd John Mann said that the Cathedral had been both “a source of blessing” as well as “a place where, in recent times, discord and hurt have been experienced”.
Referring indirectly to recent controversy over the decision to drop the post of director of music at St Anne’s, Dean Mann said that some of the discord had been “very public” and some had been experienced “privately in the inner recesses of hearts touched by the pain of division and insult”. Last year, five Cathedral Board members resigned over the decision.
The new Dean appealed for a learning of the lessons from Scripture in building for the future.
CUTTING THE BBC WORLD SERVICE
No doubt because of the distinctive service it provides to listeners across the globe, very often in situations where there is oppressive media censorship, the BBC World Service is funded, not from the licence fee, but by the Foreign Office. However, this is set to change as last year the Government announced that, from 2014, it would have to be funded within the BBC’s wider budget. Moreover, because the BBC is having to cut its expenditure in these straightened economic times, the World Service is to shoulder its share of the Corporation’s total 16% reduction.
The proposal as far as the World Service is concerned, revealed earlier this year, is that there will be ‘full service’ cuts in its services in Portuguese for Africa, English for the Caribbean, Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian. Also planned are ‘radio only’ cuts in Russian, Ukrainian, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Vietnamese, Azeri and Spanish for Cuba. The BBC has reported an estimated resulting fall in audience figures of 30 million, from 180 to 150 million per week, and the cuts are envisaged to involve a loss of up to 650 jobs from the World Service alone over the next three years.
In addition to its new technology platforms, which are of course vital, the BBC has a very wide range of broadcasting operations: BBC1, 2, 3, 4, HD, CBeebies, CBBC, News and Parliament. And that’sonly television. Naturally, everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes, but one really does need to ask if all of these television channels are necessary. The ITV’s Director of Comedy and Entertainment, Elaine Bedell, who formerly worked as an executive at the BBC, may well have been right when she told a Guardian-related event at the Edinburgh Festival last month that her ‘hunch’ was that it might be braver for the BBC to make one big cut rather than proceed on a piecemeal basis. The Independent’s contributor on media matters, Stephen Glover, last week suggested that the more upmarket BBC4 might be a big loser in the cuts, while claiming that almost no one would regret the demise of BBC3 “with its diet of trashy reality shows and seedy sitcoms”. There is surely scope to drop one TV channel, preferably BBC3, and redistribute material appropriately.
In fact, the BBC has styled its cost cutting exercise as ‘DQF’ – Delivering Quality First. Obviously, people will all differ in their views as to what constitutes ‘quality’, but slashing the World Service is definitely not part of providing a quality service overall. It has been broadcasting since 1932 and should be treated better in this round of cuts not only because it is a ‘flagship’ part of the Corporation or because of its iconic nature, but also because it is, precisely, a global service of quality first.
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Letters to the Editor
US presiding Bishop’s comments
IT IS always regrettable when the ‘Nazi-option’ is employed in a debate, as Canon Bill Atkins did in his letter in the 26th August Gazette by describing Bishop Jefferts Schori’s opinion of events in Texas as “propaganda worthy of Goebbels”.
Arguably, he was prompted by her use of the ‘Kunonga option’ (even if, in her case, it was more by implication than explicit, and perhaps unintentional, but nonetheless ill-considered).
Canon Atkins clearly takes issue with the official position of The Episcopal Church ( TEC) regarding the property that Bishops Iker and Schofield and their followers wished to retain for their use once they decided to disassociate themselves from TEC.
The courts have not, thus far at least, found in their favour.
However, I am sure that the prospect of endless litigation over the matter of the split must leave TEC feeling far from triumphant.
The lesson for us all from this is how ugly things can get when dialogue breaks down. No one wins once the lawyers are called in to adjudicate on the ownership of what was once shared.
If the prayer of Christ that we should all be one is not sufficient impulse towards Christian unity, then perhaps the vista of endless distasteful court squabbles, and the consequent further wounding of Christ’s Body on earth, might serve as an impetus to follow the Gospel imperative to live in harmony with one another.
Patrick G. Burke (the Revd) Willowbank Blackrock, Cork
Belfast’s maritime heritage
RECENTLY, my cousin and I decided to visit Belfast and visit the birthplace of the world’s most famous ship, the RMS Titanic.
The enthusiastic tour guide relived the maritime history by bringing us through the old shipyard and into the drawing office, where the plans for the Titanic were first drawn up, and then on to the site of the slipway where the vessel was built before being launched into the water.
The next stop was the massive dry-dock, where the ship was fitted out and made ready for sea, followed byacupofteaintheold pump-house, now the visitor centre, which once housed the boilers and pumps used to pump out water from the dry-dock.
All in all, this was a very interesting tour that told the story of a mighty ‘unsinkable’ ship.
The knowledgeable tour guide made the point that “Titanic was alright when she left Belfast”. The rest of the story we all know, as the then world’s greatest ship struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and remains to this day at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
A Titanic tour without a ship might seem like a bit empty to some people.
However, we did get to see another historic vessel which, strangely enough, was not on the official tour route and yet probably had equal significance to the maritime history of Belfast. The figure of an old, three-funnel, grey- painted warship called HMS Caroline, a light cruiser from the WW1 Battle of Jutland, has remained in the Belfast dock almost unnoticed for over 80 years.
The intriguing fact is that the task masters who drew up the plans for a new ‘Titanic Quarter’ have, in their haste for the regeneration of the old Belfast port and shipyard, omitted to include one of Belfast’s most prestigious maritime assets, now completely out of the picture.
At this time, the future for HMS Caroline remains uncertain and it seems possible now that she will end up as razor blades, bringing a sad end to one of the world’s few remaining historic vessels.
One solution might be for the Mission to Seafarers, now in its 150th year, in a gesture of peace, to turn the old warship into its flagship for worship.
Christopher Kirk Snakeel Killeshandra Co. Cavan
Age limit for officiating clergy
LIKE others, I have written to the House of Bishops to request clarification of the obviously new piece of legislation limiting the age for clergy to officiate.
This was applied when I reached retirement age last year. It created a very embarrassing situation for me, as I was booked for vacancy and holiday duty in several parishes, but no one seemed to be aware of the new rule.
I cannot understand why the House of Bishops will not clarify this situation.
To recap for those who did not read my previous letter (Gazette, 4th March), I was informed that the situation regarding clergy who had reached compulsory retirement age was very complicated in that the House of Bishops had decided not to issue a licence to such clergy.
Furthermore, I was told that, while a ‘Permission to Officiate’ was a case for individual Bishops, none was intending to issue it.
I was also told that the very strong thinking in the House of Bishops was that, at the age of 75 or more years, the clergy had a total ministry paid for by the Church until the last day of the years of service given.
I think that the House of Bishops has a duty to all clergy and lay readers who have served the Church faithfully all their lives to clarify this situation.
At the time of writing, I seem to be the only person to whom the new rule has been applied.
W.J. Johnston (Canon) Enniskillen Co. Fermanagh Bt74 6HN
WITH reference to the complaint by the Dean of St Patrick’s (Gazette, 26th August) about the variety of vesture at the ordination of priests and deacons, it appears to have been overlooked that the right to choose is specifically written into the rubrics of the whole Ordinal (BCP, p.552) where it says: “Deacons and priests are vested with a scarf or stole according to individual choice”.
It would, therefore, be unlawful for any person, be they bishop or dean, archdeacon or whoever, to seek to impose uniformity. It would also be illegal for any group of ordinands to seek to
impose their own preference on fellow-ordinands, as, it is rumoured, is not entirely unknown.
Members of the clergy who are participating in such ordinations are also free to make their own individual choice under Canon 12: 2b, as, indeed, they always are when ministering publicly the regular services of the Church in a church building. Their choice between a scarf or stole is not subject to the invitation or permission of any other person whatsoever. Michael Kennedy (Canon)
Lisnadill Rectory Armagh
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Dean Gordon enters civil partnership
The Dean of Leighlin, the Very Revd Tom Gordon, has confirmed that earlier this summer he entered a same-sex civil partnership.
Dean Gordon was reported in last Saturday’s News Letter as stating that the ceremony had taken place at a registry office on 29th July.
A spokesperson for the Church of Ireland was quoted as having declined to comment in detail, saying that it was a “civil matter”.
Roman Catholic Archbishops comment on Vatican response to Taoiseach
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