Church of Ireland

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Church of Ireland
Eaglais na hÉireann
Kirk o Airlann
Church of Ireland logo.png
Classification Protestant
Orientation Anglican
Scripture Holy Bible
Theology Anglican doctrine
Polity Episcopal
Primates Archbishop of ArmaghJohn McDowell, Michael Jackson,
Archbishop of Dublin
Region Ireland
LanguageEnglish, Irish
HeadquartersChurch of Ireland House
Church Avenue
Founder Saint Patrick
OriginRoughly 433AD
Separated from Roman Catholic Church in 1534
Members375,400 [1]
Official website

The Church of Ireland (Irish : Eaglais na hÉireann, pronounced  [ˈaɡləʃ nˠə ˈheːɾʲən̪ˠ] ; Ulster-Scots: Kirk o Airlann) [2] is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second largest Christian church on the island after the Roman Catholic Church. Like other Anglican churches, it has retained elements of pre-Reformation practice, notably its episcopal polity, while rejecting the primacy of the Pope.


In theological and liturgical matters, it incorporates many principles of the Reformation, particularly those of the English Reformation, but self-identifies as being both Reformed and Catholic, in that it sees itself as the inheritor of a continuous tradition going back to the founding of Christianity in Ireland. [3] As with other members of the global Anglican communion, individual parishes accommodate different approaches to the level of ritual and formality, variously referred to as High and Low Church. [4]


The Church of Ireland sees itself as that 'part of the Irish Church which was influenced by the Reformation, and has its origins in the early Celtic Church of St Patrick'. [5] This makes it both "Catholic", as the inheritor of a continuous tradition of faith and practice, and Protestant, since it rejects the authority of Rome, along with changes in doctrine and liturgy removed by the Reformation. [5] Modern scholarship argues while functionally separate from Rome, the early church in Ireland shared much of its liturgy and practice, allowing both the Church of Ireland and the Irish Catholic church to claim descent from St Patrick. [6] [ page needed ]

The Irish church was independent until 1155, when Pope Adrian IV purported to declare it a papal fief and granted Henry II of England the Lordship of Ireland in return for paying tithes; his right to do so has been disputed ever since. [7] In 1534, Henry VIII broke with the Papacy and became head of the Church of England; two years later, the Irish Parliament followed suit by appointing him head of the Irish church. Although many bishops and most of the clergy refused to conform, the church retained possession of diocesan buildings and lands, since under the feudal system bishops held that property as vassals of the Crown. [5]

Despite the political and economic advantages of membership, a large majority of the Irish remained Catholic, while in Ulster, the church was outnumbered by Presbyterians. However, it remained the official state church until disestablished by the First Gladstone ministry on 1 January 1871. The modern Church of Ireland is the second largest religious organisation in the Republic of Ireland, and the third largest in Northern Ireland, after the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches. [8]



Pope Adrian IV, who claimed Ireland for the Papacy in 1155 PopeAdrianIVCameo.jpg
Pope Adrian IV, who claimed Ireland for the Papacy in 1155

Christianity in Ireland is generally dated to the mid to late fifth century CE, when the Romano-British cleric Saint Patrick began his conversion mission, although the exact dates are disputed. [9] Prior to the 12th century, the Irish church was independent of Papal control, and governed by powerful monasteries, rather than bishops. While the Kingdom of Dublin looked to the English Diocese of Canterbury for guidance, in 1005 CE Brian Ború made a large donation to the Monastery of Armagh and recognised its Archbishop as Primate of all Ireland in an attempt to secure his position as High King of Ireland. [10]

At the 1152 Synod of Kells, Pope Anastasius IV claimed Ireland as a papal fief, and imposed a system bringing it more into line with Rome. [11] Under the Laudabiliter in 1155, English-born Pope Adrian IV granted Henry II of England the Lordship of Ireland in return for paying tithes to Rome. His claim was based on the 4th century Donation of Constantine, which allegedly gave the Papacy religious control over all Christian territories in the western Roman Empire. Its legality was disputed at the time, since Ireland was never part of the empire, while the Donation itself was later exposed as a forgery. [12]

The Irish church was divided into Dioceses, headed by bishops, while adopting English liturgy and saints, such as Edward the Confessor, and Thomas Becket. [13] In 1536, the Irish Parliament followed their English colleagues by accepting Henry VIII of England as head of the church, rather than the Pope. This marks the founding of the reformed Church of Ireland, confirmed when Henry became King of Ireland in 1541. Largely restricted to Dublin, led by Archbishop George Browne, it expanded under Edward VI, until Catholicism was restored by his sister Mary I in 1553. [14]

Henry II with Thomas Becket; the 1155 intervention was the start of efforts to Anglicise the Irish church BecketHenryII.jpg
Henry II with Thomas Becket; the 1155 intervention was the start of efforts to Anglicise the Irish church

When Elizabeth I of England became queen in 1558, only five bishops accepted her Religious Settlement, and most of the Irish clergy had to be replaced. [15] This was hampered by the church's relative poverty, while adapting to the changes of regime damaged the reputation of those who remained. Hugh Curwen was Dean of Hereford until 1555, when Mary made him Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, before returning to the reformed church in 1558. Despite accusations of 'moral delinquency', he remained Archbishop and Lord Chancellor until 1567, when he was appointed Bishop of Oxford. [16]

The absence of Gaelic-speaking ministers led to the adoption of a gradualist policy, similar to that used in Catholic areas of Northern England. [17] 'Occasional conformity' allowed the use of pre-Reformation rites, combined with acceptance of the established Church; this practice persisted in both England and Ireland well into the mid-18th century. [18]

Lack of Irish Gaelic literature was another restriction; shortly before his death in 1585, Nicholas Walsh began translation of the New Testament. Continued by John Kearny and Nehemiah Donnellan, it was finally printed in 1602 by William Daniel, who also translated the Book of Common Prayer, or BCP, in 1606. An Irish version of the Old Testament was published in 1685 by Narcissus Marsh, but the revised BCP was not available until 1712. [19]

17th century

James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh James Ussher by Sir Peter Lely.jpg
James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh

At the beginning of the 17th century, most native Irish were Catholic, with Protestant settlers in Ulster establishing an independent Presbyterian church. Largely confined to an English-speaking minority in The Pale, the most important figure of the Church's development was Dublin-born theologian and historian, James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh from 1625 to 1656. In 1615, the Church of Ireland drew up its own confession of faith, similar to the English version, but more detailed, less ambiguous and often explicitly Calvinist. [20] When the Thirty-Nine Articles were formally adopted by the Irish church in 1634, Ussher ensured they were in addition to the Irish Articles; however, they were soon superseded by the Thirty Nine Articles, which remain in use to the present day. [21]

Under Charles I, the Church of Ireland claimed to be the original and universal church, while the Papacy was an innovation, thus vesting it with the supremacy of Apostolic succession. [22] This argument was supported by Ussher, and Charles' former personal chaplain, John Leslie, a key supporter of Caroline reforms in Scotland, appointed bishop of Derry & Raphoe in 1633. [23]

During the 1641–1653 Irish Confederate Wars, nearly two-thirds of Ireland was controlled by the largely Catholic Confederacy, and in 1644, Giovanni Battista Rinuccini became Papal Nuncio to Ireland. Irish Catholicism had developed greater tolerance for Protestants, while sharing their hostility to elaborate ritual. Rinuccini's insistence on following Roman liturgy, and attempts to re-introduce ceremonies such as foot washing divided the Confederacy, and contributed to its rapid collapse in the 1649–1652 Cromwell's re-conquest of Ireland. [24]

The Seven Bishops acquitted, June 1688; a key factor in the removal of James, five later became Non-Jurors AcquittalSevenBishops.jpg
The Seven Bishops acquitted, June 1688; a key factor in the removal of James, five later became Non-Jurors

The church was re-established after the 1660 Restoration of Charles II and in January 1661, meetings by 'Papists, Presbyterians, Independents or separatists' were made illegal. [25] In practice, the penal laws were loosely enforced and after 1666, Protestant Dissenters and Catholics were allowed to resume their seats in the Parliament of Ireland. In 1685, the Catholic James II became king with considerable backing in all three kingdoms; this changed when his policies seemed to go beyond tolerance for Catholicism and into an attack on the established church. His prosecution of the Seven Bishops in England for seditious libel in June 1688 destroyed his support base, while many felt James lost his right to govern by ignoring his coronation Oath to maintain the primacy of the Protestant religion. [26]

This made oaths a high-profile issue, since ministers of the national churches of England, Scotland and Ireland were required to swear allegiance to the ruling monarch. When the 1688 Glorious Revolution replaced James with his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, a minority felt bound by their previous oath and refused to swear another. This led to the Non-Juring schism, although for the vast majority, this was a matter of personal conscience, rather than political support for James. [27]

The Irish church was less affected by this controversy, although the Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh became a Non-Juror, as did a handful of the clergy, including Jacobite propagandist Charles Leslie. [28] The Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland is traditionally viewed as beginning in 1691 when the Treaty of Limerick ended the 1689–1691 Williamite War. The Church re-established control and the 1697 Bishop's Banishment Act expelled Catholic bishops and regular clergy from Ireland, leaving only the so-called secular clergy. [29]

18th century

Irish philosopher and Church of Ireland bishop George Berkeley John Smibert - Bishop George Berkeley - Google Art Project.jpg
Irish philosopher and Church of Ireland bishop George Berkeley

In 1704, the Test Act was extended to Ireland; this effectively restricted public office to members of the Church of Ireland and officially remained in place until the 1829 Catholic Relief Act. However, the practice of occasional conformity continued, while many Catholic gentry by-passed these restrictions by educating their sons as Protestants, their daughters as Catholics; Edmund Burke is one example. [30]

It is estimated fewer than 15 – 20% of the Irish population were nominally members of the church, which remained a minority under pressure from both Catholics and Protestant Nonconformists. The 1719 Toleration Act allowed Nonconformists freedom of worship, while the Irish Parliament paid their ministers a small subsidy known as the 'regium donum.' [31]

Although willing to permit a degree of flexibility, like their English counterparts, Irish bishops viewed their status as the national church to be non-negotiable and used their seats in the Irish House of Lords to enforce this. However, in 1725 Parliament passed the first in a series of 'temporary' Indemnity Acts, which allowed office holders to 'postpone' taking the oaths; the bishops were willing to approve these, since they could be repealed at any point. [32]

In the 17th century, religious and political beliefs were often assumed to be the same; thus Catholics were considered political subversives, simply because of their religion. During the 18th century, sectarian divisions were replaced by a growing sense of Irish autonomy; in 1749, Bishop Berkeley issued an address to the Catholic clergy, urging them to work together with the church in the (Irish) national interest. [33] After 1750, the government increasingly viewed Catholic emancipation as a way to reduce the power of Protestant nationalists like the United Irishmen; this had potential implications for the church since the requirement non-church members pay tithes was deeply resented. [34] The movement ended after the 1798 Rebellion and Ireland's incorporation with Britain.

19th to 20th centuries

St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh Armagh Cathedral (Church of Ireland).jpg
St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh

Following the legal union of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain by the Act of Union 1800, the Church of Ireland was also united with the Church of England to form the United Church of England and Ireland. At the same time, one archbishop and three bishops from Ireland (selected by rotation) were given seats in the House of Lords at Westminster, joining the two archbishops and twenty-four bishops from the Church of England.

The Irish Church was over-staffed, with 22 bishops, including 4 archbishops, for an official membership of 852,000, less than that of the Church of England's Diocese of Durham. The Church Temporalities (Ireland) Act 1833 reduced these to 12, as well as making financial changes. Part of a series of reforms by the 1830–1834 Whig government that included the Reform Act 1832, it caused deep political splits. The implications of government legislating church governance was a contributory factor in the Oxford Movement and had wide repercussions for the Anglican Communion. [35]

Another source of resentment was the funding of the Church by tithes imposed on all Irish subjects, even though the majority were not members. This led to anomalies like the incumbent of a living near Bessborough, who in 1833 was receiving £1,000 per year, despite the fact the parish had no Protestants or even a church. [36] The "Tithe War" of 1831–36 led to their replacement by the tithe rent charge but they did not entirely disappear until the Irish Church Act 1869.

The Act ended the Church's status as a state organisation; its bishops were removed from the House of Lords and its property transferred to the government. Compensation was paid but in the immediate aftermath, parishes faced great difficulty in local financing after the loss of rent-generating lands and buildings. [37]


The head of the Church of Ireland is, ex officio, the Archbishop of Armagh. In 1870, immediately prior to its disestablishment, the Church provided for its internal government, led by a General Synod, and with financial and administrative support by a Representative Church Body. Like other Irish churches, the Church of Ireland did not divide when Ireland was partitioned in the 1920s and it continues to be governed on an all-Ireland basis.


Map of the dioceses of the Church of Ireland
### Province of Armagh
### Province of Dublin Dioceses of the Church of Ireland.png
Map of the dioceses of the Church of Ireland
Province of Armagh
Province of Dublin

The polity of the Church of Ireland is episcopal church governance, as in other Anglican churches. The church maintains the traditional structure dating to pre-Reformation times, a system of geographical parishes organised into dioceses. There were more than 30 of these historically, grouped into four provinces; today, after consolidation over the centuries, there are 12 Church of Ireland dioceses or united dioceses, each headed by a bishop and belonging to one of two surviving provinces. In May 2019 the Church of Ireland Synod agreed to the merger of the dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Achonry with Limerick and Killaloe. Full merger will come into effect on the resignation or retirement of either of the current bishops. The new diocese will be known as Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe and will be part of the province of Dublin. [38] At that point there will be 11 Church of Ireland dioceses.

The leader of the southern province is the Archbishop of Dublin, at present Michael Jackson; that of the northern province is the Archbishop of Armagh, at present Francis John McDowell. These two archbishops are styled Primate of Ireland and Primate of All Ireland respectively, suggesting the ultimate seniority of the latter. Although he has relatively little absolute authority, the Archbishop of Armagh is respected as the church's general leader and spokesman, and is elected in a process different from those for all other bishops.

General synod and policy-making

Doctrine, canon law, church governance, church policy, and liturgical matters are decided by the church's general synod. The general synod comprises two houses, the House of Bishops and the House of Representatives. The House of Bishops includes the 10 diocesan bishops and two archbishops, forming one order. The House of Representatives is made up of two orders, clergy and laity. The order of clergy holds one third of the seats while the laity holds two-thirds of the seats. [39] As of 2017, there are 216 clergy members and 432 lay members in the House of Representatives. [40] The membership of the House of Representatives is made up of delegates from the dioceses, with seats allocated to each diocese's clergy and laity in specific numbers; these delegates are elected every three years. [41] The general synod meets annually, and special meetings can be called by the leading bishop or one third of any of its orders. [42]

Changes in policy must be passed by a simple majority of both the House of Bishops and the House of Representatives. Changes to doctrine, for example the decision to ordain women as priests, must be passed by a two-thirds majority of both Houses. The two sit together for general deliberations but separate for some discussions and voting. While the House of Representatives always votes publicly, often by orders, the House of Bishops has tended to vote in private, coming to a decision before matters reach the floor of the synod. This practice has been broken only once when, in 1999, the House of Bishops voted unanimously in public to endorse the efforts of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Diocese of Armagh and the Standing Committee of the General Synod in their attempts to resolve the crisis at the Church of the Ascension at Drumcree near Portadown. [43]

Statutes and constitution

The church's internal laws are formulated as bills proposed to the Houses of the general synod, which when passed become Statutes. The church's governing document, its constitution, is modified, consolidated and published by way of statute also, the most recent edition, the 13th, being published in 2003.

Representative body

The representative body of the Church of Ireland, often called the "Representative Church Body" (RCB), is the corporate trustee of the church, as established by law, and much of the church's property is vested in it. The members of the RCB are the bishops plus diocesan delegates and twelve co-opted members, and it meets at least four times a year. The staff of the representative body are analogous to clerical civil servants, and among other duties they oversee property, including church buildings, cemeteries and investments, administer some salaries and pensions, and manage the church library. While parishes, dioceses, and other parts of the church structure care for their particular properties, this is often subject to RCB rules. [44]

Lady Chapel, St. Patrick's Dublin Lady Chapel St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin 010.JPG
Lady Chapel, St. Patrick's Dublin

Orders of ministry and positions

The Church of Ireland embraces three orders of ministry: deacons, priests (or presbyters) and bishops. These orders are distinct from positions such as rector, vicar or canon.

Diocesan governance

Each diocese or united diocese is led by its Ordinary, one of the ten bishops and two archbishops, and the Ordinary may have one or more Archdeacons to support them, along with a Rural Dean for each group of parishes. There is a diocesan synod for each diocese; there may be separate synods for historic dioceses now in unions. These synods comprise the bishop along with clergy and lay representatives from the parishes, and subject to the laws of the church, and the work of the general synod and its committees and the representative body and its committees, oversee the operation of the diocese. Each diocesan synod in turn appoints a diocesan council to which it can delegate powers.

Parochial governance

Each parish has a presiding member of the clergy, assisted by two churchwardens and often also two glebewardens, one of each type of warden being appointed by the clerical incumbent, and one by popular vote. All qualified adult members of the parish comprise the general vestry, which meets annually, within 20 days each side of Easter, as the Easter Vestry. There is also a select vestry for the parish, or sometimes for each active church in a parish, comprising the presiding cleric and any curate assistants, along with relevant churchwardens and glebewardens and a number of members elected at the Easter Vestry meeting. The select vestry assists in the care and operation of the parish and one or more church buildings.

Cathedral governance

Special provisions apply to the management and operation of five key cathedrals, in Dublin (which contains two Church of Ireland cathedrals), Armagh, Down, and Belfast.


The church has disciplinary and appeals tribunals, and diocesan courts, and a court of the general synod.



The Church of Ireland experienced a major decline in membership during the 20th century, both in Northern Ireland, where around 65% of its members live, and in the Republic of Ireland. The church is still the second-largest in the Republic of Ireland, with 126,414 members in 2016 (minus 2% compared to the 2011 census results) [45] and the third-largest in Northern Ireland, with around 260,000 members. [46] [47]


The Church of Ireland has two cathedrals in Dublin: within the line of the walls of the old city is Christ Church Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Dublin, and just outside the old walls is St. Patrick's Cathedral, which the church designated as the National Cathedral for Ireland in 1870. Cathedrals also exist in the other dioceses.

There is also the metropolitan cathedral church of Ireland, situated in Armagh, St Patrick's Cathedral. This cathedral is the seat of the archbishop and metropolitan, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke.

Offices, training of priests and teachers

The church's central offices are in Rathmines, adjacent to the former Church of Ireland College of Education, and the church's library is in Churchtown. Teacher training now occurs within the Dublin City University Institute of Education, overseen by the Church of Ireland Centre, based at the former All Hallows College. The church operates a seminary, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, in Rathgar, in the south inner suburbs of Dublin.

Anglican Communion

Saul church, a modern replica of an early church with a round tower, is built on the reputed spot of St Patrick's first church in Ireland. Saul church County Down sign.jpg
Saul church, a modern replica of an early church with a round tower, is built on the reputed spot of St Patrick's first church in Ireland.

The churches of the Anglican Communion are linked by affection and common loyalty. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his person, is a unique focus of Anglican unity. He calls the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of Primates, and is President of the Anglican Consultative Council. [48] The contemporary Church of Ireland, despite having a number of High Church (often described as Anglo-Catholic) parishes, is generally on the Low Church end of the spectrum of world Anglicanism. Historically, it had little of the difference in organisation between parishes characteristic of other Anglican provinces, although a number of markedly liberal, High Church or Evangelical parishes have developed in recent decades. It was the second province of the Anglican Communion after the Anglican Church of New Zealand (1857) to adopt, on its 1871 disestablishment, synodical government. It was also one of the first provinces to begin ordaining women to the priesthood (1991).

Relation with the GAFCON movement

GAFCON Ireland was launched on 21 April 2018, in Belfast, with 320 attendees from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. International speakers included Archbishops Peter Jensen, retired Archbishop of Sydney, and Gregory Venables, Primate of the Anglican Church of South America. [49] The Church of Ireland was represented at GAFCON III, held on 17–22 June 2018 in Jerusalem, by a six-member delegation, which included two bishops, Ferran Glenfield, of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, and Harold Miller, of Down and Dromore. [50] [51] Their participation was criticised by some members of the Church of Ireland. [52] The Church of Ireland is not a member of GAFCON and the church communicated that attendance by clergy was unofficial in "a personal capacity," and the General Synod has voted against GAFCON's statement on the Lambeth Conference. [53] GAFCON supporters refuted their critics claims, saying that they endorse Lambeth 1.10 resolution on human sexuality, which is still the official stance of the Church of Ireland, but has been rejected by the liberal provinces of the Anglican Communion. Rev. Charles Raven stated: "the charge that GAFCON is a breakaway or separatist group is not supported by the evidence. It is a movement of reform and revitalisation which has enabled faithful Anglicans to remain within the Communion, especially in North America and Brazil. While being clear that participation in its common life is based upon fidelity to the biblical gospel, not merely upon historic ties, the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 says quite unequivocally that 'Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion'." [54]

Ecumenical relations

Like many other Anglican churches, the Church of Ireland is a member of many ecumenical bodies, including the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches. It is also a member of the Porvoo Communion.


St. Patrick's Flag St Patrick's saltire.svg
St. Patrick's Flag

In 1999, [55] the church voted to prohibit the flying of flags other than St Patrick's flag and the Flag of the Anglican Communion. [56] However, the Union Flag continues to fly on many churches in Northern Ireland.


The church has an official website. Its journal is The Church of Ireland Gazette , which is editorially independent, but the governing body of which is appointed by the church. Many parishes and other internal organizations also produce newsletters or other publications, as well as maintaining websites.

Doctrine and practice

The centre of the Church of Ireland's teaching is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church include:

The 16th-century apologist, Richard Hooker, posits that there are three sources of authority in Anglicanism: scripture, tradition and reason. It is not known how widely accepted this idea is within Anglicanism. It is further posited that the three sources uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way. In Hooker's model, scripture is the primary means of arriving at doctrine; things stated plainly in scripture are accepted as true. Issues that are ambiguous are determined by tradition, which is checked by reason. [57]

Modern doctrinal debates

Ordination of women

In recent decades, the church has ordained women to all offices. In 1984, the General Synod approved the ordination of women to the diaconate and, in 1987, the first woman, Katherine Poulton, was ordained as a deacon. [58] In 1990 the church began ordaining women to the priesthood. [59] The first two women ordained were Kathleen Margaret Brown and Irene Templeton. In 2013, the church appointed its first female bishop, Pat Storey. [60]

Same-sex unions and LGBT clergy

The church has been divided over aspects of human sexuality. In 2002, the issue became pertinent as a vicar provided a blessing for a lesbian couple. [61] The denomination announced a period of discernment to allocate time to the perspectives within the discussion. In 2010, a congregation was recognised by the church for receiving an LGBTI award for offering services for LGBTI people. [62]

Interior of Christ Church Cathedral Christ Church 001.jpg
Interior of Christ Church Cathedral

Civil partnerships have been allowed since 2005. The church has no official position on civil unions. In 2008, "the Church of Ireland Pensions Board ha[d] confirmed that it will treat civil partners the same as spouses." [63] In 2011, a cleric in the Church of Ireland entered into a same-sex civil partnership with his bishop's permission. [64] [65] Assurances of sexual abstinence were not required from the cleric. [66] In 2012, the church's Clergy Pension Fund continued to recognise that "the pension entitlement of a member's registered civil partner will be the same as that of a surviving spouse." [67] Regarding cohabitation, the church said that "any view of cohabitation has to be the intention of the couple to lifelong loyalty and faithfulness within their relationship." [68] In 2004, then Archbishop John Neill said that the "Church would support the extension of legal rights on issues such as tax, welfare benefits, inheritance and hospital visits to cohabiting couples, both same gender and others." [69] The church recognises four general viewpoints within the denomination ranging from opposition to acceptance toward same-gender relationships. [70]

Prior to the referendum on same-sex marriage, the church remained neutral on the issue. [71] In 2015, the Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton, [72] Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel, [73] and two retired archbishops of Dublin endorsed same-sex marriage. [74] While voting "no" on gay marriage, Bishop Pat Storey endorsed civil unions. [75] Also, 55 clergy signed a letter supporting the blessing of same-sex couples. [76] In its pastoral letter, the church reiterated that, presently, church marriages are only for heterosexual couples, but that clergy may offer prayers for same-sex couples. [77] When asked about clergy entering into civil same-sex marriages, the letter stated that "all are free to exercise their democratic entitlements once they are enshrined in legislation. However, members of the clergy, are further bound by the Ordinal and by the authority of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland." [77] Services of Thanksgiving for same-sex marriage have taken place in congregations; for example, St. Audoen's Church hosted "a service of thanksgiving" for same-sex marriage. [78] LGBTI services are also allowed by the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. [79]

REFORM Ireland, a conservative lobby, has criticised the official letter as "a dangerous departure from confessing Anglicanism" and continues to oppose same-sex marriage recognition. [80] Reflecting division, the church deferred its report on same-sex marriage to listen to all voices. [81] The Church of Ireland Gazette , although "editorially independent", endorsed a blessing rite for same-sex couples. [82] Many congregations, including cathedrals, have become publicly affirming of LGBTI rights. [83] A church report has determined that "the moral logic underpinning the negative portrayal of same-sex eroticism in Scripture does not directly address committed, loving, consecrated same-sex relationships today". [84] [85] In 2017, the General Synod considered a proposal to request for public services of thanksgiving for same-sex couples, but the proposal was not passed; the church's select committee on human sexuality recommended that the bishops continue to study the issues. [86] There were 176 votes against the motion to request public services, 146 in favour, and 24 abstentions. [87] The Bishop of Cork, Paul Colton, declared his support for same-sex marriage ceremonies in the Church of Ireland. [88]

Liturgical issues

Irish language

The first translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Irish was published in 1606. An Irish translation of the revised prayer book of 1662 was published in 1712.

The Church of Ireland has its own Irish language body, Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise ("Irish Guild of the Church"). This was founded in 1914 to bring together members of the Church of Ireland interested in the Irish language and Gaelic culture and to promote the Irish language within the Church of Ireland. The guild aims to link its programmes with the Irish language initiatives which have been centred round Christ Church Cathedral. It holds services twice a month in Irish. [89]

From 1926 to 1995, the church had its own Irish-language teacher training college, Coláiste Moibhí . Today, there are a number of interdenominational Gaelscoileanna (schools where Irish-medium education is applied).

See also

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Since the 1990s, the Anglican Communion has struggled with controversy regarding homosexuality in the church. In 1998, the 13th Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops passed a resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture". However, this is not legally binding. "Like all Lambeth Conference resolutions, it is not legally binding on all provinces of the Communion, including the Church of England, though it commends an essential and persuasive view of the attitude of the Communion." "Anglican national churches in Brazil, South Africa, South India, New Zealand and Canada have taken steps toward approving and celebrating same-sex relationships amid strong resistance among other national churches within the 80 million-member global body. The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has allowed gay marriage since 2015." "Church of England clergy have appeared to signal support for gay marriage after they rejected a bishops' report which said that only a man and woman could marry in church." The Church of England's General Synod is set to discuss a diocesan motion "to create a set of formal services and prayers to bless those who have had a same-sex marriage or civil partnership". At General Synod in 2019, the Church of England announced that same-gender couples may remain married and recognised as married after one spouse experiences a gender transition provided that the spouses identified as opposite genders at the time of the marriage.

Anglican Church of Australia

The Anglican Church of Australia, formerly known as the Church of England in Australia, is a Christian church in Australia and an autonomous church of the Anglican Communion. It is the second largest church in Australia after the Roman Catholic Church. According to the 2016 census, 3.1 million Australians identify as Anglicans. For much of Australian history the church was the largest religious denomination. It remains today one of the largest providers of social welfare services in Australia.

Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada is the province of the Anglican Communion in Canada. The official French-language name is l'Église anglicane du Canada. In 2017, the Anglican Church counted 359,030 members on parish rolls in 2,206 congregations, organized into 1,571 parishes. The 2011 Canadian Census counted 1,631,845 self-identified Anglicans, making the Anglican Church the third-largest Canadian church after the Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada. Although Canada has no established church, the Queen of Canada's Canadian Royal Style continues to include the title of Defender of the Faith, albeit not in relation to any specific denomination, and the Canadian Monarch continues her countenance of three Chapels Royal in the Realm.

Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches

The blessing of same-sex marriages and same-sex unions is an issue about which Christian churches are in ongoing disagreement. Traditionally Christianity teaches that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and that marriage can only exist two persons of the opposite sex. These disagreements are primarily centered on the interpretation of various scripture passages related to homosexuality, sacred Tradition, and in some churches on varying understandings of homosexuality in terms of psychology, genetics and other scientific data. While various Church bodies have widely varying practices and teachings, individual Christians of every major tradition are involved in practical (orthopraxy) discussions about how to respond to the issue.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is a province of the Anglican Communion serving New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Since 1992 the church has consisted of three tikanga or cultural streams: Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. The church's constitution says that, among other things, it is required to "maintain the right of every person to choose any particular cultural expression of the faith". As a result, the church's General Synod has agreed upon the development of the three-person primacy based on this three tikanga system. It has three primates (leaders), each representing a tikanga, who share authority.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, known until 2006 as the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, is the province of the Anglican Communion in the southern part of Africa. The church has twenty-nine dioceses, of which twenty-one are located in South Africa, three in Mozambique, and one each in Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Saint Helena. In South Africa, there are between 3 and 4 million Anglicans out of an estimated population of 45 million.

History of the Anglican Communion

The history of the Anglican Communion may be attributed mainly to the worldwide spread of British culture associated with the British Empire. Among other things the Church of England spread around the world and, gradually developing autonomy in each region of the world, became the communion as it exists today.

Anglican Diocese of Perth

The Anglican Diocese of Perth is one of the 23 dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia. The constitution of the Diocese of Perth was passed and adopted in 1872 at the first synod held in Western Australia. In 1914, the Province of Western Australia was created and the diocesan bishop of Perth became ex officio metropolitan bishop of the new province and therefore also an archbishop.

Anglican ministry

The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.

Anglican Church of Kenya province of the Anglican Communion

The Anglican Church of Kenya is a province of the Anglican Communion, and it is composed by 37 dioceses. The current Primate and Archbishop of Kenya is Jackson Ole Sapit.

The Anglican realignment is a movement among some Anglicans to align themselves under new or alternative oversight within or outside the Anglican Communion. This movement is primarily active in parts of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada. Two of the major events that contributed to the movement were the 2002 decision of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada to authorise a rite of blessing for same-sex unions, and the nomination of two openly gay priests in 2003 to become bishops. Jeffrey John, an openly gay priest with a long-time partner, was appointed to be the next Bishop of Reading in the Church of England and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church ratified the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay non-celibate man, as Bishop of New Hampshire. Jeffrey John ultimately declined the appointment due to pressure.

Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh

The United Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh is a diocese of the Church of Ireland located in central Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh.

Anglican Church in North America Christian denomination in the Anglican tradition in North America, founded in 2009 by those dissatisfied with doctrines of the Episcopal Church / Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a Christian denomination in the Anglican tradition in the United States and Canada. It also includes ten congregations in Mexico, two mission churches in Guatemala, and a missionary diocese in Cuba. Headquartered in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, the church reported 30 dioceses and 1,037 congregations serving an estimated membership of 134,593 in 2017. The first archbishop of the ACNA was Robert Duncan, who was succeeded by Foley Beach in 2014.

Christianity in Ireland Largest religion in Ireland, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and others

Christianity is, and has been the largest religion in Ireland since the 5th century. After a pagan past of Antiquity, missionaries most famously including Saint Patrick converted the Irish tribes to Christianity in quick order, producing a great number of saints in the Early Middle Ages, and a faith interwoven with Irish identity for centuries since − though much less so in recent times.

Diocese of Down and Dromore

The Diocese of Down and Dromore is a diocese of the Church of Ireland in the south east of Northern Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh. The geographical remit of the diocese covers half of the City of Belfast to the east of the River Lagan and the part of County Armagh east of the River Bann and all of County Down.

The Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCAANZ) is an evangelical denomination in New Zealand. It is not a member of the Anglican Communion as recognised by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, but is recognised by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). The church consists of 17 parishes, some of which consist of clergy and church members who left the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia after it allowed bishops to authorise blessings of same-sex marriages, and some of which were newly established at the time of the formation of the church.


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Further reading