PaddyAnglican blog: Church of Ireland scores Anti-Gay own goal!

By Stephen Neill

Sometimes I despair – Once again we have salvaged defeat from the jaws of success! As part of the General Synod (AGM) of the Church of Ireland being held in Armagh from 8th to 10th May there is to be a Synod Eucharist on the Sunday morning (10th May).

Various groups represening the diversity of society in Northern Ireland were invited to take part in the leading of intercessions during the service. They included the GAA, Masons, Orangemen and horror of horrors ‘Changing Attitudes’, an organisation which lobbies for the open inclusion of gay people in the life of the church. I emphasise open because there are in my experience a lot of gay men and women very creatively involved at every level in the life of our church already. Some choose to ignore this, some don’t care, some welcome it and some are in denial!

Predictably but sadly, the Orange Order have communicated their displeasure at the participation of Changing attitude and have withdrawn their participation in response to it. What is more they have expressed the opinion that they should have been consulted about the involvement of Changing Attitude! It seems extroardinary to me that an invitation to an event should include the right to veto the participation of others! What parallel Universe are these people in?

Funny, I don’t remember Jesus (whose example they apparently follow) being particularly choosy about his company? Indeed wasn’t it among the marginalised that he often found integrity and truth!

So how does the C of I respond – We capitulate of course! So the invitations stand but none of these diverse groups now get to take part! They can come and watch but it would be better if they did so from afar! Wouldn’t do to offend the Orangemen would it? After all there are probably more Orangemen than Gay people in the Church of Ireland……….or are there? I wonder? Not that its the right way to approach the issue but that never stopped us before! This is a spineless response to an issue of justice and I pray one day we will see the wrong that we have perpetuated by our cowardice!

  • Link to article in Belfast Newsletter, 30.4.09