a moment of crisis – The Irish Times

All is not well in the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, the largest Church of Ireland diocese in the Republic by population. Tensions between Archbishop Michael Jackson and more active lay and clergy have been going on for some time. These came to a head last week at the annual Combined Diocesan Synods at Taney Hall in Dundrum.

The most immediate reason was an address Archbishop Jackson gave to the two diocesan councils of Dublin and Glendalough during a virtual meeting on March 18 last year. He was vigorous in criticism from both councils.

Subsequently, a nine-page letter of complaint was sent by the members to the Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell, who initiated a mediation process. It ended last December when Archbishop Jackson apologized. Coinciding with the mediation process, a task force in consultation with Lyndon MacCann SC, also a member of the Dublin Diocesan Council, has prepared a bill to bring the United Dioceses, as a registered charity, into line with the updated charity legislation.

It was described as unnecessary by the Archdeacon of Dublin David Pierpoint during the debate on the bill last week. He also said it would “have the effect of removing a lot of authority from the office of archbishop.” The dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Dermot Dunne, said the bill came from “dysfunctional councils” with “an underlying agenda”. There was, he added, “an elephant in the room which is not mentioned at all”.

Taney rector Nigel Pierpoint said there was “an ongoing power struggle”. Director of DCU’s Institute of Church of Ireland Education, Professor Anne Lodge, said part-time ministers like her “hold a license given to us by the Archbishop, and not by the diocesan councils”. Despite such opposition from senior officials in the United Dioceses, the bill passed comfortably by a show of hands in all 15 votes, presided over by Archbishop Jackson himself as president. It is a time of crisis for Dublin and Glendalough where the authority of Archbishop Jackson and his senior colleagues is concerned. It must be resolved.

Martha J. Finley