Ecumenism seen as a sign of failure, surrender and weakness

Christian Churches in Ireland have suffered because of a lack of ecumenism, Church of Ireland primate Most Rev Robin Eames has told the McGill Summer School in Donegal.

“Christianity in Ireland has suffered because of our total allegiance to denominationalism. In the naked sectarianism of Northern Ireland, ecumenism for some is a sign of failure, surrender and weakness,” he said.

Eames says religion in Ireland is now divided into two parts – north and south – with the Catholic Church commanding the largest majority of Christians in the Republic and the Church of Ireland totally integrated into the life of the Irish State.

“But neither Church in the Republic has had to address the tensions a society such as Northern Ireland has produced, in which the uneasy cohabitation of the political and the religious has posed fundamental questions about power, authority, domination, alienation and tragically, human suffering,” he said.

“For them, the freedom to believe and to implement true ecumenism has been enjoyed without the obstacles of political/religious opposition.

“In Northern Ireland, religious labels have been embraced as an identity which owes much to political hopes and fears, and little to Church allegiance or involvement.”

The Irish Examiner quotes him as saying there had been a large scale failure by all Churches to identify social and economic issues beyond their relevance to denominational doctrine and Church teaching, until violence and sectarianism began to appear in the 1960s.

“I see a failure by the Churches, all of them, to step outside the comfortable pew, the protected pulpit or the untouchable sanctuary to ask questions about justice, rights and equality in society.

“Of course, the Churches must accept their responsibilities for the grim past. But equally, they must recognise that to talk of a religious war is an over-simplification which contributes its own injustice to history.”

A sign of hope for an ecumenical future, perhaps?

  • Henry94

    “I see a failure by the Churches, all of them, to step outside the comfortable pew, the protected pulpit or the untouchable sanctuary to ask questions about justice, rights and equality in society.

    Asking questions is easy enough. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had some answers. But the reality is that a lot of clerics who make statements about economics don’t have much of a grasp of the subject.

    Trendy leftism appears to be the extent of their thinking.

    Where the Churches should have a role is in encouraging their followers to be generous doners to worthwhile charities. If they want to formulate policy they should stand for election.

  • lib2016

    The Bishop’s contribution to the ‘Mother and Child Act’ was ‘trendy leftism’? If only….!

  • Henry94

    lib2016

    I like the forward thinking name but not the backward looking post.

  • T o Kane

    as a catholic i couldnt agree more with robin eames . i think ni has probably had a negative impact on an outsiders view of christainity and the tone of this speech should be echoed by all churches .very positive and agreeable words by r eames

  • reality check

    The orange orders sectarian outlook is detrimental to any hopes of positive relations

  • Wichser

    As ever, we should judge Christians of whatever sect on the basis not of what they say they believe in but how they actually behave – is anyone surprised as to the reaction of the rest of the world ?

    Oh Ok then let’s judge them on what they believe as well – it’s silly childish irrational and highly dangerous nonsense from hich innocent little children should be protected and adults in possession of their powers of reason relentlessly discouraged.

  • T.Ruth

    The Orange Order is no more sectarian than the Roman Catholic church which does not accept protestant churches as essentially Christian.
    The insistence on a separate education system (wholly paid for by the state) is part of the problem of division.
    Most people in Northern Ireland have no difficulty on relating to their neighbours be they Roman Catholic,Protestant,Muslim or Jew.
    Does Dr.Eames mean by ecumenism a desire for closer theological relations-if so he must ponder on the theological chasm that is caused by the Roman Catholic view of Mary as a co-redemptorist,the belief in the physical presence of Christ’s body and blood in the mass,and the belief that prayers for the dead have the potential to save souls after death.
    If a Roman Catholic who was a communicant member of his/her own church came to my church he /she could fully participate in the Communion service.
    Would the Roman Catholic church permit that degree of inclusion?
    T.Ruth

  • reality check

    How dare you make such a comparison.go to a chapel and see if you bare witness to any sectarian displays.Oh wait,if your an orangeman you can’t-your organisation prohibits you from doing so.Catholics are free to enter protestant places of worship.Do you see the obvious difference?

  • maca

    “Would the Roman Catholic church permit that degree of inclusion?”

    Actually, more than likely when they spot the Protestant (because they look different) trying to get in the bouncer priests would drag the non-christian out round the back of the church for a good kicking … IF they are lucky. If they are UNlucky the congregation might actually come out as well and have themselves a good lynchin’.
    Is that the TRuth you’d like to believe?

  • maca

    “Would the Roman Catholic church permit that degree of inclusion?”

    Actually, more than likely when they spot the Protestant (because they look different) the bouncer priests would drag the non-christian out round the back of the church for a good kicking …
    Is that the TRuth you’d like to believe?

  • maca

    Oops, apologies for the double posting … p(r)oxy server problems

  • james orr

    Christianity will continue to decline whilst its main ambassadors continue to dilute its central message.

    Jesus Christ did not die on a cross just to encourage people to be nice to each other.

  • The Beach Tree

    Did he not James?

    “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

    The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’

    There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    Mark 12:29-31

  • fair_deal

    Reality check

    “How dare you make such a comparison.go to a chapel and see if you bare witness to any sectarian displays.Oh wait,if your an orangeman you can’t-your organisation prohibits you from doing so.”

    There is no bar from Orangemen entering a chapel.

  • T.Ruth

    I tried to make the point that Orangemen who are true to their calling must bear no ill will to any person and their conviction that their interpretation of and reliance on the truth of the Bible is correct does not make them sectarian in the sense that some people use that word.
    All those who believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ and in saving Grace through Faith are united in the Church of Christ and need not seek the physical unity of various church organisations and structures. Indeed there is richness in the distilled essence of our Christian religious diversity.
    However Dr.Eames should address the reality that the Roman Catholic church has serious theological errors in its teaching and should be more definite in bringing those errors to the attention of those in that church with whom he engages in ecumenical dialogue.
    T.Ruth

  • fair_deal

    This is classic Eames. His speeches lack a consistency over time with a degree of tailoring to the particular audience.

  • Wichser

    T. Ruth

    “Dr.Eames should address the reality that the Roman Catholic church has serious theological errors in its teaching”

    Indeed he should, mind you while he’s at it it he could usefully reflect the inherent absence of reason at the heart of his own beliefs, as all Christians, and Jews, and Muslims etc, chcracterized as they are by fantasy and folly. And while he’s doing it he should acknowledge the danger and horror which this suspension of reason manifests in this, and many other, societies.

  • Ringo

    T. Ruth,

    A lot of people would suggest that every Christian church has a fundamental theological error in its teaching – believing that the Bible, was written by anything other than men, who while learned for their time, would be completely overwhelmed by the knowledge of our time.

    I fully agree with your statement that the various Christian churches need not seek to justify their own teachings by bringing the closer to each other. And that includes your desire to see Catholicism recify its errors.
    If you’re going to have faith, have faith*.

    *As long as that faith doesn’t get so far out of touch with reality that you think that killing and maiming or generally disimproving the lives of others is a good idea.

    This morphosis of Church doctrines is nonsense. Seeing as God ‘alledgedly’ hasn’t had any major direct interaction with humanity in the past 2000 years, the human justified alteration of what is and isn’t acceptable to Him in the intervening period is a joke or a heresy, depending on your stance.

  • james orr

    Beach Tree

    Yes of course he said the things you quote. There is no dispute of that. My point is “why did he die” or better put “why did he come into the world”. To set your quotes in their wider context:

    “…This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” 1 John 4

    and of course the classic, which are Christ’s own words:

    “… For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved…”

    or put more simply:

    “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” 1 Timothy 1

    But lets face it, notions of universal sin and individual repentance and conviction and salvation are not exactly de rigeur these days. Perhaps the church leaders don’t believe in these things any more.