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Church of Ireland Primate announces his retirement

By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 November, 2019

Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland,

The Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland has announced he will retire from his role as leader of the Anglican Church in Ireland on 2nd February next.

Archbishop Richard Clarke made his announcement during his Presidential Address to the Armagh Diocesan Synod in the Crozier Hall at St Mark’s Parish Church in Armagh on Saturday.

The 70-year-old told the diocesan synod, “When I became Archbishop of Armagh at the close of 2012, I made a quiet agreement with my family, a few close friends, and myself that I would try to work on as Primate for five years, assuming of course that ill–health or mortality itself did not intervene. Coming towards the end of that five–year period, I would then review the situation with my family and, if all seemed to be working out reasonably well and I felt that I was still up for it, I would continue on for a further two years, but would not go on beyond that point. This latter moment in time has now arrived.”

He said his tenure as Archbishop of Armagh had been “a very agreeable experience for me, and for this I humbly thank God for the great privilege I was given in being appointed as Primate seven years ago and I also thank all of you, for your constant encouragement, your friendship, your prayers, your support and your patience.”

Archbishop Clarke will continue to carry out all duties and responsibilities until 2nd February 2020. After that date, the Church of Ireland House of Bishops will consider the selection of a successor.

Archbishop Clarke, who is 70, has served as a bishop in the Church of Ireland for 23 years, firstly as Bishop of Meath and Kildare from 1996 to 2012. He was elected as Archbishop of Armagh in October 2012 and enthroned in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, in December of that year.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, Archbishop Michael Jackson paid tribute to Archbishop Clarke in a statement on Saturday saying he had dedicated his life to the service of God and the Church.

“He has done this in a variety of contexts within Ireland and abroad. Generous ecumenism and faithfulness to the tradition have always been close to his heart. In each place where he has worked he has sought to discern and draw out the spirit of that place and its people. He has done so by engaging in a very ‘hands on’ way with church life and community life at the same time. He has also served the wider Anglican Communion with diligence.”

Dr Jackson concluded, “I am sure that I speak in unison with my fellow bishops, serving and retired, who have worked with Richard over many years in wishing him everything that is best in the years ahead. I have every confidence that they will be energetic and fulfilling.”

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin tweeted on Saturday, “My good friend and brother in Christ, Archbishop Richard Clarke has announced his intention to retire in a few months’ time. Will miss his friendship, support and cooperation. Wish him the blessing of health and happiness for the future!”

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