it sounds a bit like the rugby. But the 4 Nations Consultation on Faith and Order which I am attending in Dublin isn’t quite the open and running game. Possibly a bit more flat-footed than that.
Still it’s a really interesting time to be in Dublin as people digest the outcome of the Constitutional Referendum on Same Sex Marriage. It is remarkable that what has been one of the most traditionally Roman Catholic countries in the world should vote decisively in favour of change. Like the Scottish Independence Referendum, it is clear that young people in large numbers were deeply involved and voted with passion. Also like the Scottish Referendum, it is clear that this changes everything. It repositions the Irish Republic as the first country to make this choice by popular vote. It shifts the relationship between generations in a decisive way. Only time will tell what are the longer term implications.
Meanwhile back at the Consultation … we share understandings of how we respond as churches to human sexuality questions in general and same-sex marriage in particular. I think that a major part of the journey has been the task of learning how to reach agreement and common understanding on questions which all too easily can divide.
So in Scotland we have had Cascade Conversations in which we have spoken .. carefully and truthfully – with one another. I see that as ‘dialogue with our diversity’. We have also had a major paper from our Doctrine Committee. I see that as ‘dialogue with our tradition’. Both these dialogues need and shape a space in which we can think and explore – many of my efforts recently have been committed to making sure that that space remains open. It hasn’t always been easy.
Next month at our General Synod we shall begin to move in another way – attempting to find out whether we wish to define where we are by making changes to our Canons. And if we do want to see change, what kind of change should that be.
I’ll say a bit more about that shortly. But my hope is that we shall bring into that synodical process the values and patterns which we have learned and used earlier. That means decisions in which we all share rather than processes in which we become winners and losers. It means thinking about what ‘unity in diversity’ means – and how we hold together truth, unity, justice ….