Ireland Tour Begins

I began my Ireland tour in the North by preaching to two vibrant parishes led by Revd. Andy Heber, an Aidan and Hilda Voyager. I also listened to views of Northern Ireland electors.

After meeting some friends I was a guest at Cluain Chiarain, the new Catholic Prayer Centre at Ireland's sacred site of Clonmacnoise. Here I facilitated a think-tank on the future of Celtic lands. I began with these words:

From Trump's America to nationalistic, post-Brexit, un-churched Europe things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. This gives God an opportunity. Will we seize it?

We need to identify * a fresh vision * key infrastructures * specific proposals.

* The fresh vision is to re-imagine a special relationship between Britain and Ireland if we base our future on healing of past hurts and love growing from common roots.

* Key infrastructures - they need to develop more teeth - are The British-Irish Council ('The Council of the Isles') and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).

Specific proposals are:

1) The Council of the Isles is empowered by its parent parliaments or administrative bodies in WEDCJIGS (my acronym for Westminster, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cardiff, Jersey, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Stormont) to make proposals that they can vote to enact;

2) CTBI establishes a WEDCJIGS project team which informs, resources and proposes to WEDCJIGS at its Edinburgh Secretariat. (The British and Irish Anglican and Catholic Bishops meeting could initiate this).

3) Early Christian Celtic heritage is taught in every school in Britain and Ireland.

4) The participants in the think-tank and others support the growing momentum for Villages of God (this needs a separate paper).

Some pertinent points that emerged during or after the think-tank were:

a) Secular society is failing. Citizens, public services, businesses and politics need values such as authenticity, compassion, and service for the common good. Millennials do not I indentify such values with religious institutions. We need a renewal of spirituality.

b) Pope John Paul 11's response to his visit to Clonmacnoise highlights the importance of our proposals. A report by the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise states: Clonmacnoise appealed to him, he tells us himself, because of his sensitivity to history, the desire to return to the beginnings and thus rediscover the primacy of ‘the first things’... The Pope’s visit … called attention to the fact that this history is not closed, that it has a relevance and a message for our time too.. For as the Holy Father said in St. Peter’s Square, on his return from his visits to Ireland and to the United States: ‘Those ruins are still charged with a great mission...'

c) Advice will be needed on methodology from agencies such as The Tavistock Institute which has played a vital role in the Anglo-Irish Reconciliation Process. following the Good Friday Belfast Agreement.

Posted at 12:02pm on 12th May 2017
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