Harper new CoI primate

The Church of Ireland has elected the Right Reverend Alan Harper as Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland to succeed the retiring Robin EamesWilliam Crawley’s, light-hearted, notes on him say

Alan Harper (62) is also known for his liberal approach to some social and theological matters, and although he has lived in Northern Ireland for 40 years his Englishness may stand against him. He is said to be highly regarded by Archbishop Eames, and acted as media spokesman for the bishops recently when they challenged the UK government over its “oppressive” approach to controversial legislation in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times’ take, while tipping another candidate, was [subs req]

The Bishop of Connor Rt Rev Alan Harper (62) is a native of Staffordshire in England but has lived in Northern Ireland for more than 40 years. He is a geography graduate from Leeds University and afterwards worked in archaeology and planning. He studied at TCD and was ordained in 1979. He began his ministry as a deacon at Ballywillan in Connor diocese in 1978. Elected Bishop of Connor in December 2001 and consecrated in March 2002 at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

The Irish Times also suggested there was a concern about his age

Another contender is Bishop Alan Harper, the hard-working and widely-respected bishop of Connor diocese. He will be 63 this year and, though Archbishop Eames is 69, it is felt the House of Bishops may opt for a younger man. On the other hand the cognoscenti believe Bishop Ken Goode (54) of Derry and Raphoe, and Bishop Michael Jackson (50) of Clogher, may be too young.

Although, obviously not that much concern.


  • Congratulations Alan.

  • Yokel

    I heard Michael Jackson was hiding out in Irreand occasionally, but thats impressive.

  • Debunker

    “He is said to be highly regarded by Archbishop Eames” …

    Is that Crawley Code for “He’s Eames’s man”? If so, then it’s no surprise that Harper was chosen.

  • MikeyMo

    Eames didnt get a vote …. come on! There were 11 men (no women) picking the winner. He’s 63 this year, so he’ll have about 7 years in the job. Long enough probably. If Eames told anybody who his pick would be, they’d have voted AGAINST that candidate, but I agree that the Eames suggestion is as close as any of the journos came here to picking the right guy.

  • jerryp

    Congratulations to him. He has a hard act to follow.

  • Joanna Meyer

    Are you congratulating harper for getting the job or crawley for (nearly) hinting that he would?!

  • parcifal

    not a relative of the inimitable roy harper pete?

  • Rory

    It was at least refreshing to find no element of hypocrisy in the speculation over Archbishop Eames’ successor. No comment whatsoever on the spiritual credentials of any candidate. Which is, of course, quite proper in making a judgement on a candidate for leadership of a church that was instituted merely for the purpose of, and the sanctioning of, personal gain at whatever cost to the many.

    It is perhaps not good but at least honest to accept that the mores of the founder of that church, who was considered by one eminent modern commentator as “England’s Pol Pot”, Henry VIII, are extant.

    Any way, congratulations Bishop Harper and, given that you are English, will, I trust, not take offence in Brendan Behan’s ditty on your class of clergy:

    Of your eminent protestant prelates
    Will you cease to prattle and prate
    The foundation stones of their temple
    Was the bollicks of Henty the Eight’

    At least with a result perhaps we can all call a moratorioum on “bashing the bishop”. Or would that also transgress sexual liberties?

  • rachman

    Does he own any shops in Ballyhackamore?

  • pith

    In this dull singing and dancing age of ‘price of a local call’ democracy, it is refreshing to see an Episcopalian make the news – and a non Roman Catholic or Free Presbyterian one at that.

  • BeardyBoy

    Come come Rory – none of that – let him have his day – there is nothing to gain from saying that he is a pretend bishop of a pretend church ruled by a pretend queen – it is not nice to point out the tendency for the English to appoint usurpers to rule them now.

    But what I will pull you up for is giving Behan the credit for the “bollocks” line – he stole it from Rafteiri an File

    Antaine Ó Raifteirí (1784-1835)

    Fág uaim do eaglais ghalla
    Is do chreideamh gan bonn gan bhrí
    Mar gurb é is cloch bonn dóibh
    Magairlí Anraí Rí

    Away with your English religion,
    And your baseless meaningless faith,
    For the only rock it is built on,
    Are the balls of Henry the Eighth.

    The quatrain above is based on the Scripture in Matt 16:18. Here Christ says to Peter as they walked on the road to the town of Caesaria Philipi: “You are Peter, the rock upon which I will build my Church.”

    Raftery is said to have spent some months in Galway jail according to Douglas Hyde because of this poem of his critical of the usurpers church. However it seems more likely that the jail time was due to his writing the poem about the White Boys.

  • Pretend Church?
    Disestablished Church!

  • BeardyBoy

    It would be the worst for England if it were disestablished – at least they are keeping up a pretence which in this cased is better than nothing

  • The disestablished Church of Ireland does seem to be showing signs of growth and vitality which is more than the established Church of England is.
    The separation of Church and State is long overdue in England.

  • davnet

    Beardyboy & Rory

    Thank you for demonstrating why there’s no such thing as a non-sectarian non-tribal “republican” or “gaelic” tradition.

    The Unionists are right not to listen to the “Catholic/Protestant/Dissenter” codswallop everyone’s trying to feed them. Deep in their hearts, we all know what a lot of these folks _really_ think.

    Of course, the adherents of a certain Italian Bishop have far more claim to being the church of the usurpers. One of his predecessors made up his own claim to the sovereignty of Ireland and then granting it to Henry II of England in order to put manners on what the Pontiff called an “ignorant and barbarous nation”.

    Plus we don’t have to get into the personal lives of the Borgia Popes- contemporaries of Good King Harry -(illegitimate childen made 6 year old cardinals and all that…)

  • DK

    Henry VIII was England’s Pol Pot? Ah yes, I remember him evacuating London and making everyone work in the fields. And he was a very early communist too. Or is Rory just talking sectarian bollocks.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Staggeringly irrelevant, since , as any fule kno, God is a Presbyterian.
    Given that he is a “liberal”, he’ll doubtless feel responsible for all the tithes his church stole from the Presbyterians ( and others) during the Establishment, apologise, and give us our money back

  • Rory


    Thank you for the reference to Raftery. I had long suspected that Behan was not being original (he very often wasn’t) but had no source to support that suspicion.


    Of course we don’t attack the Roman pontiffs. Like all good trade unionists we respect demarcation of interests and attacking the popes is clearly your job.


    Sorry to disappoint you on the oul’ sectarian bollocks front, but this description of Henry VIII was given by a contributor, introduced as an eminent English historian, on a BBC Radio4 programme on the Pilgramage of Grace that I heard some time ago. It may have been Melvyn Bragg’s Start the Week. I think the comparison with Pol Pot was not based on their sharing any corrupted notion of socialism but rather on the undisputed fact that Henry was also a mad, murdering bastard, who destroyed many of England’s greatest treasures and laid waste to the only institutions of healing, succour and learning, the monastries.

  • Dr Doolittle

    The BBC says this is the first time an Englishman has led the Irish church since 1869, about 140 years.

    See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2007/01/englishman_to_lead_irish_churc.html

    Is this a step forward for Irish christians? They can’t produce their own leader?

  • pam

    since Alan has lived here for 40 years, his being english hardly matters.

  • Sammy Morse

    :Is this a step forward for Irish christians? They can’t produce their own leader?

    Is this the face of the new Ireland? Complain when an immigrant gets one of the top jobs? 😉

  • belamy

    They should have elected a Polish archbishop. I think there’s one looking for work right now, isn’t there?

  • BeardyBoy


    1 I am not republican and republicanism flourished in the US and France, supported largely by protestants and atheists – no king no bishop
    2 Gaelic tradition is diverse – compare people such as the wee frees in Skye to the Connemara coast catholic – all equally Gaelic therefore all equally distrusted by Unionists?
    3 Catholic/protestant/dissenter codswallop – I agree entirely – now you are whistling – no one in a sane mind believes this freemason claptrap
    4 Italian Bishop – Church of the usurpers – hardly the republican stadtholder of Holland usurped the throne of his uncle and father-in-law, the Church of England usurped the True Faith as the rightful Church in England and elsewhere, the Bishop of Rome to whom I fell you refer, never usurped anything – he is appointed by God
    5 Laudabiliter was granted due to imperfect intelligence forwarded to Pope Adrian – same thing happened to Scotland and was engineered by the same culprits and in Scotland was answered by the Declaration of Arbroath – so it has only the standing upon which it was issued
    6 Go ahead into the lives of the Borgias – I will await to see how it justifies Henry V111’s rebellion

  • BeardyBoy


    For your Information Henry V111 was not communist but is regarded by many as the first capitalist

  • BeardyBoy
    Rome usurped Jerusalem.
    The original Jewish Christians were more faithful than Paul to the authentic teachings of Jesus.

  • BeardyBoy


    St Peter was the designated leader and established his base in Rome, as did his successor and so on, the Primacy of Rome is not based on location but the rock – were the Pope is there is the Church – I presume you are alluding to the fanciful notions of sensationalists who say James was the leader of the Church which is just fanciful nonesense.

    As for a few of early Christians who were originally Jews the NT tells us enough about how their mistaken interpretation was quickly put right by the leaders.

    What proof of the veracity of the aboveis there? I have 2K years of proof behind me that it is wrong

  • sfess


    Some questions

    Where in the scriptures (or authenticated texts from the time) does it say Peter was Bishop of Rome? Or even visited Rome? (You’d think Paul would have addressed him in his letter to the Romans if he’d been Bishop there)

    How many encyclicals were there before 1000 AD?

    If tradition is on your side, why did the Easter Church (well over 50% of Christendom in the early days) never ever recognize the BOR as Pontiff? Wouldn’t it have been self-evident?

    Why did the infalliable Pope only discover he was infalliable in the 19th Century?

    Which Pope was the real Pope during the Middle Ages?

    The COI, of course, had a much stronger claim to Apostolic Succession and being the Irish branch of the One True Church.

    In terms of state control, for much of its History the Bishopric Of Rome was a creature of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Austrian King had veto power over papal elections until the 1920s….after the link between COI and British Monarchy was broken.

  • BeardyBoy

    Peter as Bishop of Rome

    A Papal Encyclical is the name typically given to a letter written by a Pope to a particular audience of Bishops. That group may be bishops in a specific country or to all bishops in all countries.

    The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Bulls and Briefs further explains papal documents:

    “In official language papal documents have at all times been called by various names, more or less descriptive of their character. For example, there are “constitutions,” i.e., decisions addressed to all the faithful and determining some matter of faith or discipline; “encyclicals,” which are letters sent to all the bishops of Christendom, or at least to all those in one particular country, and intended to guide them in their relations with their flocks; “decrees,” pronouncements on points affecting the general welfare of the Church; “decretals” (epistolae decretales), which are papal replies to some particular difficulty submitted to the Holy See, but having the force of precedents to rule on all analogous cases. “Rescript,” again, is a form applicable to almost any form of Apostolic letter which has been elicited by some previous appeal, while the nature of a “privilege” speaks for itself. But all these, down to the fifteenth century, seem to have been expedited by the papal chancery in the shape of bulls authenticated with leaden seals, and it is common enough to apply the term bull even to those very early papal letters of which we know little more than the substance, independently of the forms under which they were issued.
    Therefor I would say the first encyclical was the first letter written by any Pope

  • BeardyBoy

    Easter Church

    You have me here – never heard of them – tell me more

  • BeardyBoy

    True Pope of the Middle Ages

    Decided long ago – look it up for yourself

  • BeardyBoy

    The COI, of course, had a much stronger claim to Apostolic Succession and being the Irish branch of the One True Church

    This must be the comic interlude – There is only On True Church – the Church of Christ with the Pope at its head – Apostolic Succession by way of Nosey Parker – hardly think so

  • BeardyBoy

    In terms of state control, for much of its History the Bishopric Of Rome was a creature of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Austrian King had veto power over
    papal elections until the 1920s.

    Very impressed you know this – I believe in comes from the Constitution of Lothair – but you may know Church history better than me. It was in recognition of the support of the Holy Roman Empire and its role in defence of the Papacy against the attacks of the saracens and other secular parties. dates back to the 800’s.

    I think it was last used to block Rampola – a known modernist and freemason.

    After this it was abolished and has led the way for modernists to get into the Church culminating in the outrages of Vatican II.

    Anyway it served its purpose and ensured the Church survived to preach and teach as directed by Christ.

    As a tool of The State and precisely the Holy Roman Empire – tell that to Henry II – sackcloth and ashes.

  • BeardyBoy

    Infallibilty of the Pope has always existed and been believed in – the Vatican I declaration was the Church official stamp on it – nothing more or less.

    Many occassions of of the Church excercising Her role as preacher and teacher exist and the Pope deciding on matters – hence the old saying Roma loquita causa finita

    This is just one article

  • BeardyBoy
    The discoveries at Nag Hammadi are NOT fanciful nonsence.They are real!

  • BeardyBoy

    The NHC were written up around 330 A.D. and buried towards the end of the 4th century/the beginning of the 5th century. These codices have around 50 works written in Coptic – the Egyptian language spoken by Christians there and written with Greek characters – which are translations from the Greek, and usually not very reliable. Nearly all the works are heretical in character, reflecting various Gnostic tendencies. Most of these were already known because they were argued against by the Fathers of the Church, specially St Irenaeus, St Hippolito of Rome and St Epiphanius. The main contribution of these codices is that we now have direct access to the proper Gnostic works and it can be seen that the Church Fathers knew very well what they were up against. From the literary point of view, one finds in NHC the most diverse generes: theological and philosophical treaties, apocalypses, gospels, prayers, acts of the Apostles, Letters, etc. At times, the titles are not as in the original, but have been added by editors depending on the content. With respect to the works that carry the title “gospel”, one can notice that they have little resemblance to the canonical gospels, as they do not represent a description of the life of our Lord, but instead relate the secret revelations that Jesus allegedly related to the disciples. For example:–the gospel of St Thomas has 114 quotes from Jesus, one after another other, without any narrative text other than that of some questions the disciples sometimes asked; the “Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)” narrates the revelation of the glorious Christ she had about the ascension of the soul. From the point of view of their doctrines, the codices in general contain Christian Gnostic works; although some of them, like the “Apocryphal John” – one of the most important since it is appears in four of codices – the Gnostic myth forms its nucleus while the Christian features appear to be secondary. In this myth, the first chapters of Genesis are interpreted the other way round, presenting God the Creator, or Demiurge, as an inferior and perverse god who has created matter. But in the codices there are also Gnostic works which are not Christian and which collect a Graeco-pagan gnosis developed around the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, considered to be the great revealer of knowledge (“Discourse 8 and 9”). This type of gnosis was already partly known before such discoveries were made. In NHC VI there is even a fragment of a rewriting from “The Republic” by Plato.

  • Burkean

    Penal laws, gnosticism, and Vatican 1 – interesting digressions on a thread about Alan Harper.

    He is – to use a phrase employed by a former Archbishop of York – a ‘conservative liberal’. Clergy in Connor diocese, across the theological spectrum, view him as fair and personable, and he has given a direction and focus to the diocese.

    Inevitably as Primate he will be involved in political and social debates/discussions. His style and his approach will obviously be different to that of Eames, which could prove interesting for politicos.

    Perhaps a flavour of how he sees the CoI and other faith communities interacting with wider society comes in a speech he gave to a conference on social capital in 2005: “the Churches have the capacity to make a major and sustained contribution to the exploitation of Social Capital. The Churches should be viewed, therefore, as potentially powerful partners in community transformation”.

    He is (as has been pointed out earlier in the thread) to be Primate of a disestablished church – but clearly he has no intention of leading a disengaged church.