By Ann Marie Foley - 22 October, 2014
People want to believe that those who lead our country are actually interested in holding out hope for all the communities of Ireland, the Church of Ireland Primate said on Tuesday.
In his presidential address at the 2014 Armagh Diocesan Synod, Archbishop Richard Clarke urged those attending to be “people of hope rather than people of fear”.
Continuing on the theme of hope in the Alexander Synod Hall in Armagh he said, “We have not only the right but the Christian duty to ask those who are entrusted with the political leadership of this country what is their vision of hope for all.”
The Archbishop said that in Northern Ireland, the vast majority of people “want the talks at present being mooted as a means of resolving difficulties between the different political viewpoints to be pursued with integrity, energy and commitment. We want the talks to work.”
He added, “People want to see hope, they want to believe that those who lead our country are actually interested in holding out hope for all the communities of Ireland, and within both the jurisdictions represented in this diocese.”
The diocese of Armagh is setting priorities and looking to the future.
Practical work has begun and continues to involve visits to all the parishes by rural deans and other senior clergy with experienced laity to see with the parishioners what their vision for the future of their communities are.
The Archbishop himself has started a series of ‘Archbishops’ Roadshows’ and these will continue in November again as building blocks for the future.
There are plans to appoint a part-time youth officer to work with young people at local parish level. There will also be a part-time communications officer to enable the diocese to promote share what is happening.
Speaking of Franklin D Roosevelt and his lack of fear for the future, the Archbishop said “Let us then together set ourselves to be a Roosevelt kind of diocese, welcoming the future, rather than a Stalin or Chamberlain sort of place, trying to protect ourselves from what lies ahead.”
Looking at the world at large he spoke of the fears of today of ISIS and Ebola and he urged people to accept that in God’s eyes there are no ‘people like us’ and ‘people not like us’, so they can begin the process of bringing hope that begins with real solidarity.
He concluded, “As the people of God, we should be characterised by our willingness to work together in love and to give together in love, ‘steadfast in faith and active in service’ to God and those around us. I hope and pray that this may typify not only this diocesan synod but also our whole life and work together as a diocese as we step fearlessly into the future.”
“Prayerful best wishes” were sent to Cardinal Sean Brady on his retirement and extended also to Archbishop Eamon Martin as he embarks on a new phase in his ministry by Archbishop Clarke on behalf of the Church of Ireland diocese and its synod.
The Archbishop also thanked Archdeacon Raymond Hoey who is retiring and welcomed his successor Canon Terry Scott as the new Archdeacon of Armagh.
This more local Armagh synod comes after the General Synod of the Church of Ireland held in Dublin in May which was attended by representatives of all dioceses in the Church of Ireland.