Saturday, September 24, 2011

Archbishop plea fails to silence unhappy clergy

Church of Ireland rectors have broken ranks to reject Archbishop Alan Harper’s appeal for an end to discussion of the church’s first same-sex union involving a minister.

Amid growing impatience in sections of the church which has not yet made clear whether it accepts the controversial civil partnership, three weeks after the News Letter revealed the move, there are emerging warnings that if the church does not act evangelicals may find their own bishops.

In separate statements, the Rev Neville Hughes from the rural parishes of Mullabrack and Kilcluney near Markethill and the Rev Alan McCann of the urban parish of Woodburn in Carrickfergus rejected the primate of all Ireland’s call to halt discussion about the Rev Tom Gordon’s civil partnership.

On Tuesday the archbishop read a statement to the church’s influential standing committee appealing for space to allow the bishops to decide a way forward.

He asked the committee to “curtail” discussion of the partnership, and added: “In many parts of the church, the matter is seen as controversial. In such a situation it is important that great care be taken in anything that may be said.”

However, amid claims from both supporters and opponents of gay Anglican clergy that there has been a lack of leadership on the issue, there is growing evidence that at least some in the church are not prepared to wait for the bishops — who are divided on the issue — to agree a way forward. To read more, click here.

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