The Church of England and THAT House of Bishops Report

Last Friday the House of Bishops of the Church of England published a report entitled “Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations“. It runs to 19 pages and was eagerly awaited by those of us interested in the debate on LGBT+ relationships in the Anglican Communion. The report will be the subject of a ‘takes note’ debate at General Synod in February.

I for one am despondent due to its tone and content. It suggests no change for the church nor does it paint a path forward for anything to change. The language is non-inclusive and full of otherness. It talks of “Same-Sex Attraction” rather than Same-Sex Relationships. It complete ignores Bisexuality.

Now I am not a stake holder in the Church of England, but I am part of the wider Anglican Communion. I have been lucky to make friends in the Church of England, Gay and Straight. I am part of organisations for LGBT+ Christians in the UK and Ireland. Seeing this report and seeing the pain of my LGBT+ Anglican siblings in England is heart wrenching. I cannot remain silent and want to point you in a few directions where people have written responses to the report and some give ideas for going forward.

Fr Pip – The old order. The C of E, LGBT and holding on.

Quiet Vicar – Chasing Shadows…..and getting very cross with the House of Bishops

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes – Sex and the bishops

Jayne Ozanne (Statement) – Unbelievable, Unacceptable and Ungodly.

Rachel Mann – More Dust: Personal Response to the Statement on Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth – How to change the Church of England – a quick recap

Good luck to all. I pray that you will eventually succeed!

No Longer Standing on the Sidelines

The Chapel Street in Cork with The Church of S...
The Chapel Street in Cork with The Church of St Anne in Shandon Tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you have been aware that I was blogging about the General Synod of the Church of Ireland (which ended yesterday) and the Motion on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief over on Spirituality Ireland (Here, here, here and here). The motion was passed 243 votes to 87 votes after one of the longest debates in many years at General Synod. The vote broke down by house as:

  • Clergy 81-53 in favour
  • Laity 154-60 in favour
  • Bishops 10-2 in favour

The fact that this motion passed saddened me greatly and prompted a bit of soul searching and questioning of faith. Some people have suggested that I leave the church, and I am not the only one has thought about that. But I cannot do that. The Church has been there for me in times of crisis, and now is a time when the Church needs to people to speak up. To demand an Inclusive Church.

This morning I attended the International Day Against Homophobia Service in St Anne’s Shandon. This is a regular event in Cork and is always a lovely service. Today it held more meaning for me. When the Rev’d Brian O’Rourke began the Service, he apologised for the Motion being passed. He spoke against and revealed it had caused him to question his ministry.

The Service was wonderful and uplifting and today’s Gospel (which wasn’t especially picked, it is today’s reading) was the perfect one.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’

–  Gospel according to John, Chapter 15

If we want an inclusive Church we need to take this to heart. We are very lucky in Cork to have Parishes like St Anne’s Union, St Fin Barre’s Union, Kilmocogue Union, Chapel of Christ the Healer at Cork University Hospital and Kinneigh Union among others which are Inclusive Churches. We are also lucky with our Bishop, Dean and many Clergy who want the Church of Ireland to be inclusive.

For this to happen, I belive, I can no longer stand on the sidelines of my faith. I must be involved in the Church and my Parish to ensure that is and remains a welcoming and inclusive church for all.

No way on 8a. Church of Ireland regressing on Homosexuality?

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, the episcopal...
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, the episcopal seat of the pre-Reformation and Church of Ireland archbishops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the course of the weekend, a resolution before the Church of Ireland Synod, which meets on Thursday, was brought to my attention. Resolution 8a (PDF) according to the a group of LGB Church of Ireland will make LGB members and unmarried cohabiting couples second class citizens of the church.

By stating that faithfulness within marriage is the only ‘normative’ context for sex, Resolution 8A imposes a condition that people in faithful same-gender relationships cannot comply with. The implication that members of the Church of Ireland in relationships other than marriage are in breach of the Catechism gives legitimacy, for the first time, to excluding lay people in same-gender relationships from Holy Communion.

At the conference on homosexuality in March, some clergy said they refused the Sacrament to people in faithful same-gender relationships. The Bishops have done nothing to challenge such behaviour yet claim the right to lecture us about our relationships with the people we love.

Resolution 8A provides a pretext to launch witch-hunts against gay clergy in liberal Dioceses. This has happened in the Anglican Church in Australia since similar motions were passed by their General Synod in 2004.

Although Resolution 8A has been drafted to say all things to all people, once an official statement of policy is passed, the intentions of its drafters are irrelevant. History is littered with motions and legislation that functioned in ways contrary to the wishes of their drafters.

Nine years ago, our Bishops promised to start listening to us. This year, they see fit to table high-handed motions at General Synod while kicking the long-promised listening process into touch for another year. Most people would find the idea of beginning a consultation process after passing official policies odd, to say the least.

These Resolutions should have been brought through the normal democratic procedures of the Church of Ireland, but were not. They have been sprung upon members of General Synod allowing no time for wider debate in the Church. By doing so, those Bishops disrespect our Church’s democracy. Putting off this debate for a year or two to allow real listening will hardly kill us.

You can sign the Open Letter here and of course do check out the full webiste8anoway.com.

For me reading the resolutions, it does read more like old-fashioned Roman Catholic teaching and not the welcoming teaching I found within the Church of Ireland when I started to attend services in Cork.

This resolution means events like the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Service on Sunday 13th in St Anne’s at 11am very important within the Church and hopefully can be used as fight back against this resolution.

The Catholic Church in the UK to be the Vanguard against Gay Marriage?

English: A photo of the Cardinal Keith Michael...
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The Catholic Church in the UK has stepped up its opposition to Gay Marriage being introduced in the UK. Today mass-goers will be urged to oppose any moves towards Gay Marriage in a pastoral letter from Archbishop of Westminster Most Rev Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Southwark Most Rev Peter Smith. They argue that they must save marriage for “Future Generations”. They of course join the hierarchy in opposing this move as Cardinal Keith O’Brien last week compared Gay Marriage to slavery.

Two polls also appeared in the UK this week on this issue. One for the Catholic Voice and one for the Telegraph.

In the poll for Catholic Voice by ComRes 70% of respondents said “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.” This poll seemed to have found opposite results to nearly every opinion on the subject in the UK. Thankfully Pinknews have done some analysis of the poll, which only had four questions, and shows what is wrong with the poll.

To set the record straight a poll in todays Sunday Telegraph has a poll showing 45% of respondents support Gay Marriage in comparison to 36% against. The rest had no firm view.  Excluding those with no firm view 55.6% are in favour and 44.4% against.

Interestingly only the Catholic Church and the Church of England are the only two religions to express their opposition to Gay Marriage while Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and just yesterday, Reform Judaism wish to conduct religious same sex marriages.

Also on Monday the Times became the first UK daily paper to back Gay Marriage. It said “It would enrich the institution of marriage, enhance social stability and expand the sum of human happiness. It is a cause that has the firm support of The Times.”

It continues ”

“Opponents accuse the Government of undermining the foundations of marriage and abusing the power of the State. It was predictable that some Conservative backbenchers would deride the proposals as (in the words of one of them) “completely nuts”. But more influential figures are deploying similarly heated rhetoric.

“Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, yesterday branded the Government’s position a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has accused the Government of acting like a dictatorship. More temperately, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, maintains that changing the law to allow gay marriage would force unwanted change on the rest of the nation.”

It finishes with “Earlier ages considered that allowing women to own property was against God and nature. Changing the law abolished a gross injustice and thereby enhanced the legitimacy of marriage. It is time to lift another form of discriminatory treatment. Reforming the law would enrich the lives of same-sex couples who wish to marry in order to affirm by rite that they love and are loved in return. By that commitment, they will enrich the society and culture that their fellow citizens share.”

Merry Christmas!

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
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Best wishes to all my readers, subscribers, facebook fans and stumblers. Here’s to you and yours having a wonderful Christmas. I leave you with a poem by T.S. Eliot. A fitting poem for the year that we have had I think.

The Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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LGBT Carol Service in Cork

On Monday 20 December a Carol Service will take place in St Annes Church, Shandon Street Cork at 8pm. This will be a a Celebration of Welcome. A non-denominational service to welcome everyone.

Singing the Carols will be Mná, Mná, a choir put together for the event and winner of Chambers Got Xtra Talent Darragh McGann.

The service has had some coverage across the pond on LezGetReal who have a post that is well worth reading.

Mince pies and mulled wine will be served after the service.

I for one am looking forward to this.

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IDAHO 2010

IDAHO2010

Changing Attitudes Ireland is again organising events for International Day Against Homophobia in Belfast, Cork and Dublin. While IDAHO is on the 17th May, the events will take place on the preceding Sunday 16th of May. The theme this year is “Open Doors”, which I think is very fitting for a church dealing with this issue.

In Belfast the service will take place at St. George’s Church, High Street at 15.00hrs. Following the service between 16.15-16.45hrs. in St. George’s Hall, there will be the launch of a Resource Booklet “Share your Story” – Gay and Lesbian Experiences of Church at which the Speaker will be Revd. David Cooper (Methodist).

In Dublin the service will take place at Christ Church Cathedral at 15.30hrs. In Cork the service will take place at St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral Cork at 19.00hrs.

Having attended last years service on the theme Don’t Throw Stones, I am looking forward to this years service.

Do go along if you get a chance, I know this event helped me a lot last year.

There is more information, including the order of Service(PDF) on the Changing Attitudes Ireland website

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The Pope’s Letter to Irish Catholics

Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Po...
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Having read Pope Benedict’s XVI pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, I can say I my respect for him and the Vatican has increased.

He has apologised on behalf of the church and is sending an Apostolic Visitation for certain Diocese. It will be interesting to see which ones.

I have reproduced part of the letter below,

6. To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

7. To priests and religious who have abused children

You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.

I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

……

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.

Read the full letter here. It is worth reading.

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Cardinal Brady and the Pope

VATICAN CITY, ITALY - DECEMBER 25:  Pope Bened...
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From the Archdiocese of Dublin, the Primate of Ireland and now the Supreme Pontiff, allegations of involvement in the cover up of child abuse have been directed at them all.

When reading the stories regarding the role played by Cardinal Brady in the Father Smyth case and the role the Pope was in, when he was in Cardinal in Munich there seems to be a strange similarity.

In 1975 Cardinal Brady was not the the bishop, he was only carrying out orders. While the then Cardinal Ratzinger, was in charge of of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in 1982 and the issue of Father Hullermann and the allegations were raised.

Both are claiming they did the right thing and should not resign, they both can’t be right

The silence coming from the Vatican is not exactly a comforting sign for those who have been abused by members of the Catholic Church. Just like the statement from the Catholic Church in Ireland, trying to defend the indefensible hasn’t helped here.

Should one or both of them go?

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Blasphemy Illegal from Today

I got this recently on facebook.

Defamation Act 2009 (Commencement) Order 2009 (SI No 517 of 2009)
I, Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform,
in exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 1(2) of the
Defamation Act 2009 (No 31 of 2009), hereby order as follows:

1. This Order may be cited as the Defamation Act 2009
(Commencement) Order 2009.

2. The 1st day of January 2010 is appointed as the day on which
the Defamation Act 2009 (No 31 of 2009) comes into operation.

Given under my Official Seal,
15 December 2009.

DERMOT AHERN,
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The Defamation Act, contained the references to Blasphemy, so be careful with what you say. I wonder who will be the first person prosecuted under it? If any!

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