Appointment of Gafcon bishop
Sir, – Those in the Church of Ireland who are concerned about the appointment of a member of Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference) to be Bishop of Down and Dromore should not be too surprised by Wednesday’s confirmation of the appointment by the House of Bishops.
The bishops are required to assent to the appointment if the person is fit to be ordained and consecrated. In reality it would have been very difficult for the bishops to challenge this election as there is no precedent for such a challenge combined with the fact that the wording of the requirement is so vague.
However, the actions of Gafcon can be visibly witnessed in the wider church where it has caused much disruption to the unity of the Anglican Communion both by organising boycotts of the Lambeth Conferences and at provincial and diocesan levels by wilfully and underhandedly undermining episcopal authority and dividing congregations sometimes to the extent that prolonged law suits ensue.
The main precepts which Gafcon seems to have are ensuring that women in the church know their place together with a preoccupation with the conduct of the sex lives of others, the latter seeming to be mostly confined to gay people who can only achieve “true discipleship via celibacy”.
Remarkably Gafcon is mostly silent on what straight people should be doing with their sex lives to achieve discipleship of course. The fact that a bishop of the Church of Ireland is a visible and active member of such an organisation can only instil foreboding in both clergy and lay circles.
In a world in which the church struggles to bear witness as a beacon of love, compassion and acceptance this appointment remains perturbing. – Yours etc