Belfast Telegraph

Presbyterian Church 'alarm' over gay clergy

By Alf McCreary

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has expressed concern at the Church of Scotland's handling of the issue of homosexual clergy.

Last month the Scottish Church voted to allow its ministers who were ordained before May 20, 2009 and who are now openly gay to be appointed by congregations. The Church has also created a commission to consider the justification of the future ordination of gay ministers.

This report is not due for two years, but earlier this year the Irish Presbyterian Church wrote to the Scottish Church outlining its views on the sanctity of traditional marriage and its objection to sexual relations outside that.

The Very Reverend Dr John Lockington, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, told General Assembly members in Belfast the outcome of the Church of Scotland meeting last month had caused "much disquiet, disappointment and even alarm".

He said: "The Scottish Church has embarked on a particular course of action that will not be changed radically in two years' time, and it is a matter of concern for us that our 'Mother Church' has in the eyes of many departed from the Church's traditional teaching."

He added: "This is not some unimportant difference of opinion over an irrelevant issue. It is a matter of great significance, and we have to affirm today that whatever others might do, this is not a direction we want to follow."

However, the Reverend Cherith Maybin, the Presbyterian chaplain at the University of Ulster, has urged Assembly members to "think carefully" about young people who discover that they experience same-sex attraction and who feel that "in no way can they talk about it in their church or to their minister".

The Assembly voted in favour of a resolution to "view with concern the deliverances of the Church of Scotland on the Report of the Special Commission".

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