Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Church injury to gay people debated

Revd Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, addresses the General Synod in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

The hurt and injury experienced by gay and lesbian people because of the words or actions of Church of Ireland members is being debated.

Ten bishops and two archbishops have joined 630 clergy and laity for the General Synod in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Revd Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said the sensitive subject of human sexuality in the context of Christian belief was among the issues up for discussion.

Six bills and 23 motions, including three focusing on sexuality, will be debated over the three-day gathering in Dublin.

Archbishop Harper, OBE, said: "The second motion acknowledges openly the hurt and injury experienced at times by lesbian and gay people as a result of the words and actions of Church members. It articulates the commitment of the Church of Ireland to being sensitive to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian people and a safe and welcoming place for everyone."

Pensions for elderly clergy and the future of Church of Ireland schools in the Republic are also issues high on the agenda.

In his presidential address, Archbishop Harper described the issues surrounding sexuality as difficult and potentially divisive in all the churches.

"Members of the General Synod, this is but work in progress and it is work not for bishops alone but for the General Synod on behalf of the Church of Ireland as a whole," he said.

"Leadership in the Church of Ireland, especially in the context of the role of bishops, consists not in telling the Church what to think but in assisting the Church in coming to a richer, deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the faith we have received.

"The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland guard and define the doctrine of the Church only to the extent that they may be called upon to declare whether or not a particular view is consonant with the current teaching of the Church as the Church of Ireland has received it. Ultimate sovereignty under God rests with the General Synod."

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