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.