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Church committee on sexuality needs more time for final report

Bishops hear gay Oxford don lament his prohibition in ministry

Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the Church at Oxford University: fell away from the church after being prevented from progressing beyond the post of deacon


Changing Attitude Ireland, a Church of Ireland group which promotes equality for LBGT people, has been invited to appear before the Church of Ireland Select Committee on Human Sexuality, as have a number of academics, General Synod was informed.

In its interim report the committee, set up in 2013, said it was likely to require more time than the two years agreed last year and would be seeking a further two years at General Synod in May 2015.

On Friday a public interview on ‘Faith and Sexuality’ with the openly gay academic Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of Church History at Oxford University, took place at St Audeon’s Church in Dublin. He also presented the 2009 BBC television series A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.


Discrimination
Interviewed by RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson he spoke of his misery on being ordained a deacon in the Church of England and being prevented from progressing further due to his sexuality. For some time he fell away from the church, he said.

The event, organised by Changing Attitude Ireland and the chaplaincy at Trinity College, had an overflow attendance, including half of the Church of Ireland House of Bishops.

A motion calling for a tax increase of about 33 per cent on off-licence sales of alcohol throughout this island was passed by a significant majority at the General Synod.

So too was a motion calling on governors of the Church of Ireland College of Education to ensure that “the religious ethos and values of the Church of Ireland . . . are promoted and legally safeguarded” in ongoing discussions about the move to a new campus at St Patrick’s in Drumcondra, Dublin.


Proposed papal visit
Referring to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s support for a visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, the rector of Newcastle, Co Down, Canon Ian Ellis said, “there would be no more welcome visitor to these shores than Pope Francis”.

In such event he hoped “Northern Ireland would be included in the itinerary” as “it would help build up community relations in general”.

It could also provide an opportunity “in an open and constructive way, [to raise] some of the difficult matters that still need to be effectively addressed between our two Communions”.