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Anglican-Methodist Pandora’s box in Ireland

23 May 2014


From the Revd Paul Arbuthnot

Sir, - It was with dismay that I learnt that the General Synod of the Church of Ireland has passed a Bill to make fully interchangeable the ministries of the Methodist Church and the Church of Ireland (News, 16 May). This is surely one of the most ill-conceived pieces of synodical legislation in a very long time.

An ecclesiological Pandora's box has been opened. Issues ranging from the apostolic succession to lay presidency of the eucharist will now have carefully to be considered.

Will those ordained by a Church of Ireland bishop who was previously a Methodist President (all former Presidents are being retrospectively recognised as "episcopal ministers") be considered to be priests by the Church of England and other Provinces? Will the Sister Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Porvoo Churches, and the Old Catholics deem the participation of two (or more) bishops in a dedicatory prayer at a non-eucharistic service of installation of a Methodist President sufficient to effect episcopal consecration - the full equivalent of traditional episcopal ordination and consecration in the context of a celebration of the eucharist?

Ordination to the priesthood by bishops in the apostolic succession has been required throughout her history by the Church of Ireland to guarantee the validity of the eucharist and absolution. This would appear no longer so, as Methodist ministers, not so ordained, may now be appointed incumbents of Church of Ireland parishes.

Perhaps we may look for some clarification on this situation as it will apply outside Ireland from the relevant authorities including theC of E's House of Bishops?

1 The Deanery, Sumpter Yard
Holywell Hill, St Albans AL1 1BY


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