Harper asks for restraint over dean

21 September 2011

by Gregg Ryan, Ireland Correspondent.

THE Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Alan Harper, has urged the Church of Ireland’s Standing Com­mittee to “curtail” general discussion on the announcement by the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Revd Thomas Gordon, that he had entered a same-sex civil partnership, as it “has created a new situation”, and was very controversial in some parts of the Church of Ireland (News, 9 September).

In a statement on Tuesday, Arch­bishop Harper said that the Bishops had planned to devote time in residential consultation to matters to do with same-gender relationships this autumn, in the light of changes in the membership of the House of Bishops since 2002-03; the introduc­tion of equality legislation; and civil-partnership legislation in both jurisdictions.

The new situation and reactions to it had added urgency to their work, the statement said. “I am, therefore, requesting that general discussion of these matters in the Standing Com­mittee should be curtailed to enable the Bishops to begin their discussions and suggest a framework for future discussion at representative level.”

The Archbishop said that the Church of Ireland did not regard a civil partnership as matrimony, and there were no proposals for the provision of rites of blessing.

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