By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 May, 2016
Church of Ireland must look beyond its own self-interest and its own survival to the future to which God is calling it: Archbishop Richard Clarke.
The Church of Ireland is to undergo a major review of itself ahead of the 2019 sesquicentenary marking 150 years since disestablishment.
In his presidential address at the Church of Ireland General Synod in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday, Archbishop Richard Clarke said he was “enthusiastic” about the project which will entail a comprehensive, objective and external review of the Church as a community.
People from outside the Church will be invited to “look at us lovingly but also critically, to tell us where we as a Christian tradition on this island need to strike out in new directions, while also valuing what we have received through succeeding generations of men and women who sought God’s glory in faithful service of Christ and his Church,” Dr Clarke explained.
Elsewhere in his address, the Archbishop of Armagh said that on many occasions over the past couple of years he had said that the Church of Ireland must look beyond its own self-interest and its own survival.
He added that it must look beyond the present into the future to which God is calling it.
Separately, Archbishop Clarke was joined by Archbishop Michael Jackson in expressing concern over the possible consequences of a British exit from the EU.
At a press conference on Thursday, Archbishop Clarke told journalists that an exit would certainly have economic consequences for both Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“I see it as having a massive effect on the Church of Ireland on the island of Ireland, socially, economically and politically,” he said.
He described it as “a very serious matter” but underlined that he was speaking as a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and not theologically.
In his presidential address, Archbishop Clarke warned that Europe faced “new and serious challenges”.
“There is the possibility that the European Union will fracture further and this is particularly to the forefront of peoples’ minds in the light of the forthcoming referendum on British withdrawal,” he said.
Dr Clarke warned those voting in the referendum that they have a duty to “consider the consequences of their decision-making for the whole community.”
Attending the annual Church of Ireland Synod in Dun Laoghaire, the Archbishop said there would also be social consequences for travel within Ireland. “Would I have to produce my passport to visit Drogheda which is part of Armagh diocese,” he queried.
His view was echoed by Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin who said everybody who votes has to make up their own mind.
However, he stressed that there were “tremendous warning lights” in relation to a Brexit, “particularly when we are talking about a Northern Ireland that is on the same landmass as the Republic of Ireland.”
“It is very often when something is gone that you realise that it was quite good,” Dr Jackson commented.