Letter to the Church of Ireland Gazette
When my Katharine, my wife, was appointed dean of Saint Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny on 23rd December 2009, it became immediately obvious that I would need to leave my Dublin parish and find one within striking distance of Kilkenny.
Bishop Michael Burrows suggested that the parish of Leighlin, which would fall vacant in spring 2010 might be suitable, offering the position of dean and rector of the small group of parishes, and a role within the diocese developing adult education and training.
Having no desire to leave Dublin, but compelled by circumstances, I thought Leighlin, a short drive from Kilkenny offered the prospect of something a little different from my usual parish ministry. Although the parish was not yet vacant, the parochial nominators agreed to an informal meeting; its informal nature meaning there were no oaths of secrecy. It became quickly obvious that I had neither the qualifications nor experience they sought, and the matter did not progress.
The Reverend Tom Gordon was appointed to Leighlin later that year. He had never made any secret of the fact that he was gay, or that he was in a long-term relationship, and it had never seemed to have caused problems during his time as a member of the staff of the Church of Ireland Theological College (if it was a problem, perhaps someone would indicate where in public record this was indicated). No comment was passed when he was appointed to Leighlin, or when he was installed as Dean. Only when his civil partnership was registered on 29th July 2011 did people begin to claim that the church was confronted with a new situation. It was a baffling moment; what was new?
A belief grew there was some liberal conspiracy that led to the appointment, yet if my encounter with the nominators of Leighlin on Saturday, 6th February 2010 had had a different outcome, then the Church of Ireland would not be in its present situation.
I think it is appropriate to set the record straight.