Belfast Telegraph

Cleric Dr Alan McCann warns Church is facing storm over same-sex marriage

By Alf McCreary

A clerical opponent of same-sex marriage has claimed that the Church of Ireland faces a very turbulent time over the issue.

The Reverend Dr Alan McCann, rector of Holy Trinity Church in Woodburn, Carrickfergus, was commenting on Virtue Online about the way ahead following last week's General Synod decision not to take a softer line on same-sex marriage and similar issues of sexuality and the Christian faith.

The motion was defeated by 176 votes to 146 following a two-hour debate at the General Synod in Limerick. The issue was passed on to the House of Bishops to try to find a way forward.

Dr McCann, who opposed the General Synod motion, stated: "Orthodox Anglicans in the Church of Ireland having nothing to be complacent about. I envisage that the House of Bishops will struggle to bring anything other than 'we are a work in progress'.

"The Church of Ireland is in for a very turbulent time, and there is no sign that the storm will abate any time soon.

"In fact, the very opposite is true. The liberal revisionists are emboldened by the closeness of the vote."

He said: "The vote last week will be seen as a watershed, especially when compared to the overwhelming vote in 2012 which restated, and which is still our official position, that marriage is between one man and one woman.

"The orthodox members of the Church of Ireland can no longer remain silent, and we desperately need a clearer lead from the orthodox bishops, or we need to start to look elsewhere for that leadership."

The Rev Trevor Johnston, rector of All Saints parish in Belfast, spoke and voted against the motion last week and he told the Belfast Telegraph that "at one level" the narrow vote surprised him "because there was such a readiness to reject and overthrow Jesus' teaching in the Gospels".

He said, however, that he was not surprised on another level because he had noticed over the years "a significant push towards change by some in the Church in acceptance of its historical teaching. There is no justification for this change of mind - just a cultural pressure".

Rev Johnston said: "The bishops, like all clergy, are bound to teach the Christian faith as it is found in the Bible. To teach in a way that is contrary denies the authority of God, surely?"

He said that this issue is a "massive challenge". He added: "It's probably make or break. Basic observation around other Anglican churches and witness shows tears, pain and hurt. The revision of the Church's teaching brings division and causes it to cease being faithful."

The Rev Alison Calvin, a native of Armagh who is rector of Kilmore in Co Cavan, also spoke and voted against the motion last week.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "This is not about condemnation, exclusion or rejection, but about needing to hold fast to God's better story, and His authority, while still exercising pastoral care and compassion."

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