17 February 2012

Failure to listen to ‘Occupy’ protests ‘missed opportunity’ for Church

Today’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette (17 February 2012) publishes the following photograph and half-page news report on page 4:

Failure to listen to ‘Occupy’
protests ‘missed opportunity’ for
the Church – C. of I. theologian

Canon Patrick Comerford (left) is pictured with the Revd Dr Peter Waddell in the Chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

The Church has missed “a blessèd opportunity” in mission through the failure of the community at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, to listen constructively to the “Occupy” protesters encamped outside the building, according to a Church of Ireland theologian.

Preaching recently at Choral Evensong in the Chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Canon Patrick Comerford, who is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin, said that when the Church “misses the opportunity to hear the ordinary concerns of people when they articulate them, [it] fails to grasp the intersection between temporal reality and eternal truth.”

Canon Comerford went on to say: “In missing the opportunity to listen to the ‘Occupy’ protesters in London, the community of St Paul’s Cathedral missed an opportunity, a moment in time that can never be presented in the same way again.”

He added: “In this failure, a blessèd opportunity to express the mission of a Cathedral – to allow the nation to speak to the Church and the Church to speak to the Nation – has been lost, never to be recovered in quite the same way again.”

The Pastoral Dean of Sidney Sussex College, the Revd Dr Peter Waddell, who is originally from Newcastle, Co Down, has been Chaplain of Sidney Sussex since 2005, Pastoral Dean since 2010, and is also the Director of Studies in Theology.

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