Belfast News Letter reveals conservative plans to discuss gay divisions

The Belfast News Letter has reported the plans by the Church of Ireland to hold a major conference next spring in an attempt to ease growing tensions over its approach to homosexuality.

The News Letter says that disillusioned conservative and evangelical members of the Church of Ireland are planning their own meeting in Northern Ireland on Monday of next week. It is to be addressed by a visiting bishop from outside Ireland, as some parishes become increasingly unhappy at the Irish bishops’ leadership. Changing Attitude will watch with interest to see which bishop from another Anglican Province has agreed to become involved with Irish conservatives.

A representative of the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy declined to comment on the statement.

Implicit in the statement issued by the Church is the fact that the bishops disagree on whether to accept gay relationships. Some, such as the Rt Rev Harold Miller, believe that same-sex activity is sinful while others, such as the Rt Rev Michael Burrows, believe that it should be approved of within the church.

The Belfast News Letter reported comments issued by Canon Charles Kenny, Secretary of Changing Attitude Ireland, in full.

It also reports Canon Ian Ellis, editor of The Church of Ireland Gazette, as saying: “Ultimately, the law of the church is decided by the general synod but I see the envisaged conference as enabling a wider and more face-to-face discussion among those of differing views than has been the case until now. The conference will in turn inform the mind of the general synod, assuming that the general synod will be asked to consider the issue.

“Some people will be relieved that there now is some space, but others wanted a clearer outcome from the residential meeting. However, we’ve got what we’ve got, and that is the start of a process that will be focused and will not be slow. While the conference is not due to be held until the spring, the intervening time clearly will allow for a proper preparatory process. I trust that the Gazette will be seen as a useful medium for the expression of all points of view and thereby make its own contribution.”

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