Look at the pictures of the 2013 General Synod in Armagh. Same old, same old. Where are the new faces? Where are the young people? Read the accounts of business. Where’s the reality? Where’s the vitality? Where’s the strategy? Where’s the vision? Where’s the engagement with science, with society? Why are Bishops apparently obsessed with sex, but say next to nothing about injustice and usury? Listen to the way at Diocesan Synods that rabbit’s friends and relations are voted into vacancies, or retiring members are immediately re-elected. See how fear of reprisal influences voting by show of hands.
Is this a portrait of a thriving organisation? It is not. It’s a portrait of an irrelevant and self-congratulatory club in which old people plan a future they will not be around to see. What’s the point of spending money on prizes for blogs, websites, media? Who, outside the membership of the select little club, cares a damn about this piffle? I’m reminded again of Aer Lingus being awarded the prize for the best Irish airline by Cara, the in-house magazine of Aer Lingus.
Well over half the clergy in this diocese are over 60. Will we be replaced? Even if replacements can be afforded, where will they come from? I suspect the trickle from Rome has peaked. Some of us come from England, and there are some from the kingdom of Far Far Away, but the church can’t rely on them. The Church of Ireland community can hardly be said to be enthusiastic about fostering vocations. Look at the pictures of synod again: how many of those people can even manage to get their children and grandchildren to come to church?
In Co Laois there are eight paid Church of Ireland clergy. Costs are rising, property taxes are passed on to churches. People are increasingly hard-up. Crisis looms (crisis does not mean opportunity—that’s management-speak invention). How long before eight are down to three: north, central, and south? And as for churches: there are too many. So close some. Simples.
What’s the chance of a rational and clear-headed discussion of these issues? None. It’s all about tribal identity, posturing and self-gratification. If the Church of Ireland population were even a fraction as loyal and committed as is the Muslim population, churches would thrive and lives would be changed.