The two Church of Ireland archbishops have warned against an “aggressive extremism” among members, advising that it is not the church’s way of doing things.
In a church currently deeply divided over same-sex issues Archbishop Richard Clarke and Archbishop Michael Jackson have noted that the preface to the traditional 1662 Book of Common Prayer “says a great deal about the character of the Church of Ireland throughout its long history”.
That preface speaks “of finding a middle way between ‘too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation’.” This, they say, “might well be applied to many other aspects of the Church of Ireland’s everyday life and witness.”
They continue that “there is always an uneasy feeling that aggressive extremism will destroy far more than it can create.”
They say that “the most distinctive feature of the Church of Ireland is a strong sense of family.” It is “culturally and demographically extremely diverse, and, like every family, not always without the occasional domestic disagreement”.
The archbishops make their observations in a combined foreword to a new book, The Church of Ireland – An Illustrated History, launched in Dublin last night. Without any direct reference to the same sex issue, they say that “naturally and properly, a church that seeks to proclaim the Gospel in every age must also be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
They point out how “the General Synod of 1990 agreed to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate, recognising that gifts of ministry and eligibility for ordained ministry are not confined to males alone”.