Nowhere like home

So here we are back in Donegal.  It is part of the Irish Republic while being geographically north of Belfast.  The car registrations outside and the accents inside our favourite restaurant are all Northern Irish.  By the way, it’s The Mill, Dunfanaghy. Derek and Susan who own it are Gleneagles trained and it is outstanding.  Dunfanaghy has a bit of the character of Portadown Sur Mer – so we can check out the progress of the parish under its new management without having to go there.  Our daily dose of the Irish Times tunes us in to the realities of Irish life.  Horrific road death statistics for one.  A big slice of the front page today reports concern by the Catholic and Church of Ireland Primates about a concelebrated Mass involving three Roman Catholic and one Church of Ireland priests last Sunday.  Archbishop Brady said that there was, ‘a real danger of causing widespread confusion, raising false hopes and creating situations that are open to misunderstandings and manipulation.’  The dilemma is that there are rules.  To break them doesn’t actually change anything.  I remember visiting the Columbanus Community of Reconciliation in Belfast – an ecumenical religious community.  They did not practise inter-communion – deciding not to take to themselves freedoms which were not available to others outside their community.  And yet – one wonders whether, after decades of failure to make significant ecumenical progress in areas such as this, there will be any change unless people break the rules.  Could it be a WWJD issue?


  1. I’m sure it was. And if, as I suspect many of those who were there will feel, there was both spirit power and people power in this, it becomes a challenge to those of us who end up as de facto guardians of ecclesiastical orthodoxy to say what actually is at stake in all this. And, to be fair, Patsy McGarry’s comments in today’s Irish Times are very charitable towards to the two Archbishops who have both made measured and non-condemnatory responses.

  2. The saddest comment in Archbishop Brady’s press statement is surely there was ‘a real danger of ………. raising false hopes’.

    If Easter Sunday – the day of the concelebration – isn’t about hope then what is?

    To be there was inspiring.

  3. Sure – count me in with the cautious [arch]bishops. Like CJ in Reginald Perrin, ‘I didn’t get where I am today without ..’ But on the WWJD question, I wonder, for example, about, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, etc., etc.’ And while I understand entirely the need for institutional discipline in a situation like this – any outbreaks in the Dunfermline area would be firmly dealt with – it reminds me that, in general, we seem to have lost both expectation and aspiration for any real progress on this or other similar issues

  4. Jesus wasn’t a Christian of course, so I don’t think the idea of participating in a mass would have really appealed to him at all. Unlike many of us, he in fact strengthened the demands of the Torah rather than diminishing them – so maybe he would after all be on the side of the cautious Archbishops on this one?

  5. Methinks the WWJD approach would succinctly identify the problem and tackle it head-on.

    A few weeks ago I was at home, visiting church for one of the last times in that building. The preaching touched on the themes of Col.2:14 and “In Christ there is no (slave|free|male|female|Jew|Gentile)…”.

    Against those, I can’t see how any “rule” can stand. I can sort of understand letting-in guidelines that actually work for the good of organization, temporarily, but we can’t let guidelines become rules, rules become law, …

Comments are closed.