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Church of Ireland archbishops join ecumenical delegation to Irish government

Posted on: January 25, 2018 2:55 PM
An ecumenical group meets with Irish government ministers
Photo Credit: Church of Ireland

Anglican leaders have taken part in an ecumenical meeting with Irish government ministers to discuss a number of “pressing social and ethical matters”. The Irish Prime Minister, known as the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, invited senior clergy and lay representatives from the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland to the bilateral meeting in Dublin, as part of a Church–State structured dialogue process.

The Anglican Primate of Ireland, Dr Richard Clarke, the Archbishop of Armagh, led the Anglican delegation, which also included the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, and two Secretaries of the General Synod: Canon Gillian Wharton and Ken Gibson. They were joined by the Presbyterian Church Moderator, Dr Noble McNeely, the Lay Leader of the Methodist Conference, Dr Fergus O’Ferrall, and other senior church representatives.

“We welcomed the opportunity to meet the Taoiseach and his ministers today as part of the Church–State dialogue, which we were assured will be a continuing and constructive two–way conversation,” Archbishop Richard said after the meeting, speaking on behalf of the three Churches. “Our wide–ranging discussion included many of the most important and pressing social and ethical matters relating to contemporary Irish society.”

These included migration, direct provision and overseas aid, the impact of Brexit – Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – on Ireland and Northern Ireland, abortion and the recognition of the unborn child’s life under the Irish constitution, homelessness, social housing and wider economic issues, and education.

The Taoiseach’s delegation included a large number of ministers, including those responsible for education, justice, health and foreign affairs.