THE Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, is to retire at the beginning of February, having been Primate of All Ireland for eight years. He made the announcement at his diocesan synod on Saturday.
Dr Clarke, whose wife, Linda, died in 2009, said that, after his election in 2012, he had made “a quiet agreement” with his son and daughter, together with a few close friends, that he would serve for five years, and, if his health was still good, he would continue for a further two years. “This latter moment in time has now arrived,” he said.
A Dubliner, Dr Clarke served as a bishop in the Church of Ireland for 23 years, first as Bishop of Meath & Kildare, from 1996 to 2012, before being enthroned in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, in December of that year.
He described his Primacy as “a very agreeable experience for me, and for this I humbly thank God for the great privilege I was given in being appointed as Primate seven years ago; and I also thank all of you for your constant encouragement, your friendship, your prayers, your support, and your patience”.
He will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Armagh until 2 February. After that date, the Church of Ireland House of Bishops will consider the selection of a successor.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said: “Archbishop Clarke has dedicated his life to the service of God and the Church. . . . Generous ecumenism and faithfulness to the tradition have always been close to his heart. In each place where he has worked he has sought to discern and draw out the spirit of that place and its people. He has done so by engaging in a very ‘hands-on’ way with church life and community life at the same time. He has also served the wider Anglican Communion with diligence.”
Dr Clarke is the author of several books, which include Shouldering the Lamb: Reflections on an icon, (Dominican Press, 2017).