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article imageGay controversy threatens to split Church of Ireland

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 12, 2011 in World
A controversy over same-sex relationships has arisen in the Church of Ireland after it became known that the Dean of Leighlin (Carlow), the Very Reverend Tom Gordon, married his same-sex partner of 20 years in a civil ceremony at a registry in July.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, conservatives in the Church of Ireland have expressed their disapproval of Bishop Michael Burrows appointing Reverend Tom Gordon as Dean of Leighlin, in-spite of being aware he was in a same-sex relationship.
According to the Irish Times, Reverend Tom Gordon had been lecturer at the Church of Ireland Theological School of Dublin and coordinator of religious programs, before he was appointed Dean of Leighlin.
The controversy has led to the proposal of a plan for bishops of the Church of Ireland to do a study of same-sex relationships in the Church.
However, The Church of Ireland Gazette, according to the Belfast Telegraph, has expressed concerns about the plan leading to a prolonged debate, which could imperil the unity of the Church.
The Gazette pointed to the decade-old controversy in the Worldwide Anglican Communion, which has brought the church to "breaking point," and warned that a similar situation could overtake the Church of Ireland.
The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland has reached an agreement on the controversial issue.
Last week, after a three-day meeting, they issued a statement in which they agreed to examine the issue in detail and called on Church officials, members and leaders to avoid provocative actions and statements.
The Irish Times, giving greater details of the planned study of same-sex relationship in the Church of Ireland, says the Church is planning a major conference on sexuality for spring, 2012.
The move has been welcomed by a group known as Changing Attitude Ireland. Secretary of the group, Canon Charles Kenny, said the group was:
“...happy to hear that the bishops are committing themselves to listening and speaking openly about these complicated issues...the atmosphere at the proposed conference will make it possible for gay and lesbian church people, lay and clerical, to participate honestly in the discussion."
The group, known as Changing Attitude Ireland, according to the Irish Times, is working,
"...for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons within our churches. It is dedicated to celebrating and maintaining the traditional inclusivity and diversity of the Anglican Communion."
According to the Belfast Newsletter, Canon Ian Ellis, editor of The Church of Ireland Gazette, commented on the proposed conference:
“Ultimately...I see the envisaged conference as enabling a wider and more face-to-face discussion among those of differing views than has been the case until now. The conference will in turn inform the mind of the general synod, assuming that the general synod will be asked to consider the issue...While the conference is not due to be held until the spring, the intervening time clearly will allow for a proper preparatory process."
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