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Future of western dioceses in Ireland under Synod scrutiny

03 March 2011

by Gregg Ryan

THE Church of Ireland is to hold a special meeting of the General Synod to discuss the future of the western united dioceses of Tuam, Killala & Achonry after the vacancy caused by the move of the Bishop, the Rt Revd Dr Richard Henderson, to the diocese of Carlisle (News, 26 November).

The Synod meeting, to be held in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, tomorrow, will consider a Bill brought by the Bishop of Meath & Kildare, Dr Richard Clarke, and the Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good. This would effectively suspend the holding of an electoral college for the united dioceses until after the General Synod in May 2012.

The Bill seeks in Clause One “to give op­portunity for consideration of the requirements for episcopal ministry in that diocese”, which to its many opponents in the sparsely populated west of Ireland is code for a break-up of the present arrangements.

Clause Two assures episcopal oversight, but provides for the appointment of a working group by the Standing Committee on the issue, which will lead to recommendations for debate at the ordinary session of the General Synod in 2012. Passage of the Bill would mean that the united dioceses would be vacant for at least 15 months.

One senior representative of the laity said: “There are many concerns over this Bill, and yet with a population of less than 3000 over an area stretching through three counties from Sligo to Mayo and Galway, most would agree the problems, financially and otherwise, must be addressed in some way. This is not just a ques­tion for our dioceses, but for others in the Church of Ireland as well.”

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