Heresy trial off after C of I dean resigns


The Church of Ireland Dean of Clonmacnoise and rector of Trim and Athboy, Very Rev Andrew Furlong has resigned both posts. It means Dean Furlong's heresy trial, due to begin in Dublin next Friday, will not now go ahead.

Dean Furlong was suspended from duty by Bishop Richard Clarke of Meath and Kildare last December after publishing on a parish website his belief that Jesus was not divine.

Last March, following a meeting at which the dean reasserted his views, Bishop Clarke initiated an action to bring him before the court of the General Synod. It could have meant the dean's removal from his posts.

Last night Dean Furlong, who will continue to reside at Trim for the time being, said he couldn't, because of legal reasons, discuss the arrangements arrived at.

He is unsure what he will do next. He hasn't changed his views on Jesus and has repeated them in an article for the new Irish Pages journal, which will be published tomorrow. He hopes to remain a member of the Church of Ireland.

He was critical of both Bishop Clarke and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Walton Empey. In his book And Is It True? the Bishop Clarke had said that if we were writing the creeds today they would be very different, he recalled. But instead of using the controversy to explore this, he had chosen "the route of scurrying off to his ivory tower, and silence".

Archbishop Empey, who had criticised the dean's views, "spoke from the evangelical world to which he belongs" and not as a leader who represented the breadth of views within the church.

Bishop Clarke felt doubly constrained from talking last night - by legal advice and his own practice of not discussing matters involving individual clergy.