Debate on sexuality
The Church of Ireland is embarking on a structured debate throughout the island on human sexuality within the context of Christian belief. The debate was precipitated by the decision in 2011 by the Very Reverend Tom Gordon, Dean of Leighlin in Carlow, to enter a same-sex civil partnership. Largely ignored by media in the Republic, there was a storm of controversy in Northern Ireland media during which, according to Reverend Gordon, extremely hurtful things were said by others, including clergy.
At the beginning of the recent General Synod in Armagh, the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, said that his views are well known with respect to issues such as gay marriage. But he, like others, must enter a conversation such as that about to take place with an openness to his mind being changed. Otherwise it is not a conversation. The Archbishop said one of the tasks for the Synod would be to set up a select committee on sexuality. Last week, we heard from Dean Gordon who criticised the lack of openly gay people on the committee saying that, because it is select, it could draw its members only from the Synod membership and the only openly gay member of the Synod was himself. So the committee effectively would consist of one group of people talking about, not with, another. Bishop Patrick Rooke of Tuam, Killala and Achonry spoke with Paul Loughlin about how the select committee would work and why he supported it.