Anglican fixation with gay clergy criticised


The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev John Neill, has criticised Anglican preoccupation with the gay clergy issue. Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent, reports.

In an address at the Easter Day Eucharist Service in Christ Church Cathedral yesterday, he said: "The Anglican Communion has spent too long arguing about gay clergy and far too little time wrestling with the fact that nations and leaders claiming to be Christian bomb the daylights out of those with a different ideology.

"The tragedy of Christian disunity allows Christians to argue about who may take the Bread of Life together while millions have not got enough bread to feed their children this very day."

On the matter of belief he said: "For many today there is the darkness of confusion and of competing ideologies that make the journey towards belief that bit more arduous. In all the churches, we have to admit that we have ourselves often become the problem.

"To proclaim a message by which we obviously fail to live is to erect serious barriers to belief and to faith. It is easy to point the finger at the sensational and tragic, such as abuse perpetrated by clergy, but we must also point the finger in a less obvious way," he said.

"We fail in our witness to the Risen Lord when as churches we become a club for the respectable, or an unquestioning defender of the status quo, or a bastion of a moral rectitude in a world crying out for compassion and healing."

Easter, he noted "begins in darkness, and the lifting of that darkness was for many of those close to Jesus a very gradual realisation.

"There are for some people startling moments of disclosure, dramatic conversions, but such should not be seen as denigrating the steps that others take in the darkness towards faith in the living Christ.

"The full light of Easter is not something that any individual or any church has ever fully grasped. Easter is always a journey towards faith, as well as an expression of faith. Easter is not a time of exclusion for those wrestling with the call to belief, it is rather an invitation to come and journey, to walk the road towards belief."

He noted that "the longest single account of Easter is about the walk to a village called Emmaus on the evening of that first Easter day, when facts were recited, when experiences were recounted, but the Risen Lord was only recognised at the very last moment - and that in a moment that was a glimpse of the mystery of worship - in the broken bread of the sacred meal."