Plan to merge Irish dioceses shelved

A motion to reduce the number of Church of Ireland dioceses from 12 to 11 was withdrawn from consideration from this week’s meeting of General Synod.

A motion to reduce the number of Church of Ireland dioceses from 12 to 11 was withdrawn from consideration from this week’s meeting of General Synod. On 9 May 2016 the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structure released a statement saying: “The Commission acknowledges that General Synod asked that a final scheme and Bill with those agreed features should be brought in 2016 and we deeply regret that we now feel unable to do so. After much heart–searching and consideration of all the implications, however, it is our judgment that the time, the circumstances and the atmosphere are not right for this to be presented and discussed as we envisaged. It is not in the best interests of the church to have divisive and acrimonious debate and it has never been our wish to engage in confrontational argument, attacking and defending, ‘winners’ on one side and ‘losers’ on the other.” In April the Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh have endorsed the commission’s proposal that the United Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry would be merged into the neighboring dioceses of Kilmore and Limerick.  Geographically it forms one of the largest dioceses in the Church of Ireland but numerically is the smallest with fewer than two thousand parishioners spread across nine parochial cures of thirty churches. The proposed amalgamation would occur upon the retirement of the present incumbents of either diocese. The rationalization plan also called for six cures from the Diocese of Glendalough in the United Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough to the Diocese of Kildare of the United Diocese of Meath and Kildare. In his presidential address to the 12-14 May 2016 synod meeting in Dún Laoghaire, the Primate of All Ireland, the Most Rev. Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh noted that he was “aware that there may be some misunderstanding among a number of people as to the nature and scope of the ‘Long–Term Church’ project on which we as a Church are embarked. We need to be very clear that we should never imagine that the mission of the Church throughout every diocese and local community can somehow be ‘achieved’ by a central Church initiative.” Amalgamation of church structures would “be different according to place and context. What the central Church can and should do, however, is to ensure that it gives as much support and structural shape as it can achieve, in order to serve local communities in their mission and service to the world, ” Dr. Clarke said.

 
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