(Blogmensgo, gay blog of July 7, 2018) A total of 232 members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland have sent a letter to the General Assembly of their denomination, which was published on 6 July 2018. In it they criticize that their church refuses to accept persons in same-sex partnerships as full members and to baptize their children. Titled “A Scream from the Heart”, the open letter calls for homosexuals and their children to no longer be discriminated against.
The Presbyterian Church of Ireland is the largest Presbyterian church in Ireland, with approximately 225,000 members and about 6,400 ministers. The 232 signatories to the petition are therefore only a small part of the Presbyterian hierarchy, but many of them are quite well known:
These include, for example, Ruth Patterson, the first woman ordained by the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and Bert Tosh, a well-known BBC personality. The other signatories are officials, priests, elders, theologians and scientists from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Christina Bradley, the only Presbyterian minister in her country to have welcomed the result of the Irish referendum in favor of gay marriage, is a signatory to the petition as well.
We acknowledge, and indeed share, the profound sense of hurt, dismay and anger currently being expressed in the wake of decisions taken at our 2018 General Assembly.
On 8 June 2018, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland confirmed its present position:
Homosexual activity is not consistent with Christian discipleship.
One of the decisions of this General Assembly was not to send a representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and not to receive its leader in Belfast, because the Scottish sister church is considered as too accommodating regarding homosexual relations.
The rigid stance of the Irish Presbyterian General Assembly against LGBT couples and their families also undermines the credibility of this church, the signatories of the open letter are claiming.
Several officials and a former senior official (Lord Alderdice) have recently resigned from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Laurence Kirkpatrick, professor of religious history, was suspended from his Presbyterian duties because of his public criticism of the General AssemblyS homophobic decisions.
Comment: The brutality and stupidity of Irish Presbyterian statements and decisions against homosexuality, homosexuals and their families are truly astounding.
On the other hand, the brevity and the mild phrasing of the open letter make it almost impossible to call the 232 signatories rebels. The text is not free of Jesuitism and yet very accommodating overall, even if it clearly denounces the homophobic decisions.
In the end, the current intransigence of the Presbyterian General Assembly leaders gives little cause for optimism. God is love – except in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, it seems.
Frank-S / MensGo