11 December 2009

A bishop should ‘not cling on to office’

Today’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette (11 December 2009) carries the following report on page 4:

A bishop should ‘not cling on to office’

Canon Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, has said that “a bishop should not cling on to office on the basis of some opinion poll, some X-Factor vote, some popularity contest among clergy and their parishioners.”

He was speaking at a recent Sung Eucharist in the Institute shortly after the publication of the Murphy Report on child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

Canon Comerford affirmed that “a bishop must be a focus of unity.”

Whilst acknowledging that “sometimes bishops make mistakes … we all make mistakes,” he continued: “If a bishop does not expect high – not necessarily the highest, but certainly very high – moral standards from his priests, then he is not just negligent of his office, but he can no longer be the focus of unity that is at the heart of the primary ministry of a bishop.”

Asked by the Gazette if he had any particular bishop or set of circumstances in mind in making his remarks, Canon Comerford did not comment further, other than saying he had “said what is in the script and did not move beyond that.”

In his address, Canon Comerford commended Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, “because he is willing to provide moral leadership and to provide it even when he has to take tough decisions.”

He added: “The truth is that the overwhelming majority of priests in the Roman Catholic Church are good priests. In their lonely solitude at night, they must be drowning in seas of sorrows … as they realise how … they are bearing the blame that ought to be shouldered by a few, but who have been protected in the past and sometimes even in the present by some bishops and even by some in the Vatican.”

Canon Comerford expressed the hope that Roman Catholic priests “will find sympathetic hearts among their colleagues who are deacons, priests and bishops in the Church of Ireland.”

See: http://gazette.ireland.anglican.org/2009/111209/index111209.html

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