Religious figures from the Church of Ireland will today gather
for a pivotal two-day meeting on homosexual clergy.
The key discussion - which threatens to create a schism in the
church if they fail to reach a compromise - is being held at the
Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, and will feature
almost 500 bishops, clergy and lay members.
As reported by the Belfast Newsletter, the meeting was called by
the church's bishops last year.
It comes after openly-gay Tom Gordon - the Dean of Leighlin
Cathedral in County Carlow - entered into a civil partnership with
his partner in July 2011, surprising many.
The first Anglican clergyman in Ireland to enter into a same-sex
union, the move was celebrated by equality activists who want to
see religious communities embrace gay tolerance.
But it was also said to have caused amongst evangelicals in the
Church of Ireland's more traditional congregation.
Now, this conference is hoping to re-unify the church and its
personnel over the issue.
The seminar will include discussions on the issue of gay clergy,
plus the religious, scientific and legal ramifications surrounding
Many members of the church believe that same-sex relationships
are against the teachings of God, while others favour a more
contemporary approach - namely, that civil partnerships and gay
clergy should be embraced.
A statement by The Most Revd Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh,
on the Church of Ireland website says: "What do I most hope may
emerge from the conference? I hope participants will seize the
opportunity to listen and to learn, to share convictions and
perspectives, to deepen relationships through shared prayer, honest
encounter and respectful consideration of the breadth of the
Gospel, and thus to grow in faith and commitment through enhanced
understanding both of the issues and of each other."
The church will publish updates of the two-day gathering on