A newspaper’s agendaDec 17th, 2012 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Church of Ireland Comment
The Irish Times seems intent on trying to dictate to the Church of Ireland how it should conduct its own affairs.
An interview with the new Archbishop of Armagh in today’s edition concludes, ‘As to the prospects of a woman bishop any time soon in the church, he says, ‘I’ve no doubts. We’ve two vacancies coming up.’ He says, ‘when the time comes it must be the right person for the right job’. ‘Tokenism would be patronising.’
The new Archbishop would not have left himself a hostage to fortune by suggesting that he had no doubt that a woman would be elected in the coming weeks, but the newspaper’s juxtaposition of statements makes him appear to do so. The Irish Times seems to believe that this is an issue of international importance. In an editorial on 23rd November it stated,
The Church of England now faces a Sisyphean task as it tries to roll back this disaster and tries not only to recover its credibility but its right to speak with moral authority to the nation as the Established Church. Meanwhile, all eyes in the Anglican Communion may now turn to the Church of Ireland to see if a woman is elected as a bishop for one of the two dioceses that are vacant.
The claim seemed so extraordinary that I was prompted to write to them a letter that appeared in the edition of 24th November,
Sir, – “All eyes in the Anglican Communion may now turn to the Church of Ireland to see if a woman is elected as a bishop for one of the two dioceses that are vacant”, states your editorial writer in reflecting upon the Church of England’s vote on women bishops (November 23rd). All eyes? What a strangely Hibernocentric view of the Anglican Communion.
Travelling on Tuesday to Rwanda and Burundi, the Anglicans I meet will mostly have no awareness whatsoever of Ireland, let alone an interest in who might be ordained in its small Anglican Church; the issues of how to feed their families for another day tend to be rather more important, as they are for many of the world’s Anglicans. – Yours, etc,
Instead of accepting that the editorial was a piece of hyperbole, the response of the Irish Times was to print a letter on 27th November implying that I was ignorant of affairs within my own church and making an even more absurd claim. Now it was not the eyes of the Anglican Communion, but the eyes of the world.
Sir, – Canon Ian Poulton (November 24th) may be interested to know that there are several countries in the worldwide Angican community which have ordained women bishops without disturbing the planetary system.
New Zealand is among several countries (US, Canada and Australia) which allows female bishops. The Bishop of Christchurch, the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews blamed “a traditionalist isolated group” that was “distant” from the rest of the Church of England for jettisoning the synod’s attempt to legislate for women bishops.
The Church of Ireland may soon have a unique opportunity to appoint the first Irish female bishop. Then surely the eyes of the world will be on the island of Ireland? – Yours, etc,
The entirely silly claim that the world would turn its eyes on Ireland because a tiny church elected a woman prompted a further letter, which was never printed. The Irish Times appears not to like its agenda challenged.
Sir,Canon Poulton is well aware that there are women bishops elsewhere in the Anglican Communion (Letters, 27th November). His point was that Anglican people facing a daily struggle for survival have little awareness of Ireland and even less interest in the business of the Church of Ireland. Whether or not the Church of Ireland elects a woman bishop, the eyes of the world will not be watching.Yours faithfully
c/o Hallelujah House
Anglican Diocese of Shyogwe
The episcopal electoral colleges to elect a new bishop of Meath and Kildare on 28th January and a new bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh on 4th February should not be subject to media pressure. Only those with a particular agenda believe a woman must necessarily be elected at this juncture. Dr Clarke is right, ‘when the time comes it must be the right person for the right job’. ‘Tokenism would be patronising’.