Dialogue Vital to Our Faith in Dublin & Glendalough – Archbishop’s Synod Address
The Diocesan Synods of Dublin & Glendalough are taking place this evening (Tuesday October 9) in Temple Carrig School, Greystones. The evening began with a celebration of the Eucharist with the commencement of Synod business immediately afterwards. During the Eucharist, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, gave his presidential address.
In his address, the Archbishop spoke about Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland in August. He said that Pope Francis had had a huge impact on World Christianity, guiding Christians from the assumption that Christianity was the “first and often final” interpretation of religious experience, to begin the journey of expressing itself as a World Faith. He encouraged people to engage more with the Dublin City Interfaith Forum in this regard.
The Archbishop looked at Pope Francis’s argument that tradition was the doctrine going forward – the essential did not change but it grows and develops, as a person does, through dialogue. He said that we were invited to lead institutional growth through dialogue.
Pope Francis’s exploration of theology as being at the heart of ecology was also highlighted. The Archbishop said that ecology, while being about challenging waste and wastage and climate change and violation of habitat, was also the portal through which we engaged in dialogue with creation and law, earthiness and justice.
Turning to the United Dioceses, the Archbishop highlighted the ongoing work on a strategy of outreach and dialogue with those who will live in the areas designated for major housing development in the Dublin region over the coming years.
“There now is no escaping the fact that for the future we will need a mixture, a blend of church understanding combining who we are already and who we are yet to be in this area such as we do not yet know and have perhaps never needed to know before since the days, one hundred and fifty years ago, of the upsurge in what are now historic, settled leafy suburbs. We have resisted thinking about comprehensive change to our respective comfort zones in these diocese for too long, preferring to leave ‘parishes that do that sort of thing’ to ‘do that sort of thing.’ Again, I suggest the need for dialogue in the way the word is used by Pope Francis: tradition growing like a person, as we go forward. Dialogue will lie at the heart of this movement in faith and hope going forward. It cannot be a case of: we are the parish, this is what we have on offer, take it or leave it …This movement will involve the strategy of prayer, the imagination of hope and the dialogue of attention shared with people who are new to church altogether and, by no fault of their own, have no knowledge of it whatsoever,” he said.
The Archbishop spoke about the Sanctuary Movement. Dublin City University became the first University of Sanctuary followed by University College Dublin, he said. Christ Church Cathedral became the first Cathedral of Sanctuary followed by St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The continuing link with the Diocese of Jerusalem was also highlighted. “Not only is this something that is of church interest; the current realities in The Middle East confront us daily in every newspaper and on every television channel; it is of the widest possible human interest. Our dioceses are linked with Syria, Gaza, the little town of Bethlehem, the city of Jerusalem. For us, this is a great privilege. In all our interchanges, we have been even–handed with the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples… As a diocese, therefore, we have sought to understand a broad range of perspectives and to talk and pray with and for all sides. Such even–handedness, particularly in times of incomprehensible and incalculable stress and distress, is also dialogue,” he commented.
The development of the Gateway Project brings with it a devastatingly simple task, the Archbishop said: bringing and sharing and receiving the love of God. “We have had centuries of experience and opportunity to do this already. As the referee says: Use it,” he added. In relation to the new communities which will grow in the new housing developments, he suggested that accommodating and getting to know these people would bring as exciting a period of development as any since 1870 during the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.
“It ought to be noted and remembered that this development lies in the time when we will commemorate Disestablishment 150 the strapline of which was: … free to shape our own future. In so many exciting ways, we are back in the days of the early church forming communities of hope and without any assurance of institutional success but free of much institutional baggage and encrusted pretension. This is the reality of ecclesiastical life that too many years of superficial settledness and security have left us to figure out once more from first principles. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is a most exciting place to be. It brings us once again to dialogue, dialogue with others who will dialogue with us, the interaction and the interchange of tradition, encounter and growth,” he stated.
Looking ahead to the marking of the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment, the Archbishop noted that the relationship of the Church of Ireland with the totality of Irish history and culture was complex and could only become more complex as the commemoration of Disestablishment approached. “While many still mourn the loss of establishment status, many argue that were it not for disestablishment coming historically when it did, the Anglican tradition in Ireland might have found it significantly more difficult to survive than it has done so,” he said. He said it was important that Irish Anglicans address the issue of their identity.
“The period 2019–2021 will give us the opportunity to work out, through the 150th Anniversary of Disestablishment, what it is to be disestablished today. It follows immediately on the Commemoration of the end of World War 1 in November 2018. It may come as a surprize to many that the strap–line taken up by the architects of disestablishment was a positive and a pro–active one: free to shape our own future. Again we are in a position in every parish in the diocese to explore and to share this history and this future with our neighbours in an ecumenical, post–modern and increasingly post–Christian Dublin. There is an historical and a contemporary story to tell and we have our part to play and our contribution to make. Many of the churches for which we have custodianship stand on sites that are associated with our heritage both Disestablished and pre–Disestablishment. What is more, this is a great time and a great theme to share in our engagement with new communities for whom local history is so engaging and exciting,” he commented.