Church must show initiative on ‘end-of-life’ issues, says Archbishop

Clarke calls for compassionate, intelligent and spiritual response to abortion call

Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke stressed the need to speak “compassionately, intelligently and spiritually” on what he called end-of-life issues

Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke stressed the need to speak “compassionately, intelligently and spiritually” on what he called end-of-life issues

Thu, May 9, 2013, 21:33

The Church of Ireland primate has called on all Christians to confront those treating human life “not as a gift but as a commodity”.

In his first presidential address to his church’s general synod since his appointment, the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke stressed the need to speak “compassionately, intelligently and spiritually” on what he called end-of-life issues.

Without specifically mentioning abortion or assisted suicide, Dr Clarke said the church should show initiative and not wait for the State to legislate before making a response.


Child deprivation
He also called for renewed efforts to tackle child deprivation and poverty.

“If as Christians, we believe that all life is a gift of God from its earliest beginnings to its earthly end, how are we to treat that gift, even in times of trauma and pain?” he asked.

“These are things that really matter to many, many people, both inside and outside the church. These are also things on which we would be heard if we would speak compassionately, intelligently and spiritually. Let us not wait until state legislation has already decided on such matters before we make a response. By then it will be too late.”

He warned: “It is not merely a matter of making statements on behalf of the church, or even on one’s own behalf. Every responsible Christian disciple should be ready to confront those who, whether in political life or not, would treat human life not as a gift but as a commodity.”

Dr Clarke said Christians must assist those who “highlight the needs of children in distress”. He said members of the church had to ensure the care of children involved in the life of the parish.

But there was also a need to go further. “I believe we need to go further and give what support we can to those agencies – both those involved with the church and those independent of them – who seek to alleviate the pain and suffering of children in Ireland today.”

Quoting the charity Barnardos, he said about 100,000 children were living in poverty in Northern Ireland.


Consistent poverty
“In 2011, 9.3 per cent of children – children aged up to 17 in the Republic of Ireland continued to live in what is defined as consistent poverty, a figure up from 8.8 per cent in 2010. This equates to over 100,000 children.”

“Surely we should not be able to remain detached or indifferent in any part of this island to any child’s suffering, let alone to such a level of suffering that is clearly there all around us?” Dr Clarke said.

The synod also passed detailed measures to “restore the solvency” of the church’s Clergy Pensions Fund.

The matter will be concluded at the final day of the synod tomorrow.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson, in a debate on human sexuality in the context of Christian belief, proposed the setting up of a special committee for a two-year term to address all issues concerning human sexuality.