Sunday Sequence carried an article this morning about the disagreement between the Church of Ireland Gazette and the Bishop of Clogher, Michael Jackson (also covered on William Crawley’s blog). Bishop Jackson was chairman of the CoI’s working group on the Eames Bradley proposals (though we learned in the process of the Sunday Sequence report that not all the committee members attended the meetings). The working group’s comments are mostly as one might expect; albeit somewhat mealy-mouthed. However, on the Ford Focus of money (the £12,000) the working group reported that The feedback from members of the Church of Ireland is mixed and on the Quigley Hamilton proposals on wiping ex-terrorists slates clean they suggested that such a proposal would not have consensus across the Protestant community.
Both these comments are so disingenuous as to be utterly dishonest. It is overwhelmingly clear that there is consensus amongst the vast majority of members of the CoI (along with most other people, of all religions and none; unionist, nationalist and other). That consensus has been overwhelmingly opposed to the £12,000 and indeed to the Quigley Hamilton proposals. However, the CoI working group seem to have preferred craven obeisance to the noble Lord Eames’s proposals. The CoI is of course not really a democracy and leading prelates such as Jackson can pontificate as they wish. However, they are not able to control the Church of Ireland Gazette which seems to take a stance more in keeping with that of the members in the pews. The Gazette has published letters (here) and 15th January (not yet on line) highly critical of Bishop Jackson’s submission.
The CoI however, also has a strategy for avoiding the problem of its members disagreeing with its hierarchy: initially they refused to release the document. Subsequently the submission was released under a Freedom of Information request to the government. Not to be outdone, however, the prelate in charge (Jackson) simply refused to speak to the CoI Gazette. He is, however, due to speak to William Crawley on next week’s Sunday Sequence.