Another in the series of Patrick Finn Lectures, this one by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson.
The title of the talk was "Mission and Hope" and as far as I could make out it was about what should be the mission of a Christian church in the world today and whether it was likely to be fulfilled. The talk was described as brilliant by those better qualified than me to judge. I couldn't quite get a fix on it. Perhaps I'd need to have been coming from a perspective of faith rather than that of an unbeliever, or perhaps the Bishop's style is just not my cup of tea.
What I did feel, however, was that the very presence of this Protestant Archbishop in this Roman Catholic church, addressing a Roman Catholic congregation from within the sanctuary, was something very positive.
I have commented elsewhere on what I perceived as the openness of the Church of Ireland, of which I have first hand experience (here and here). The reciprocal openness of the Roman Catholic Church on this occasion must surely be welcomed. It's not all that long ago since my cousin, then a Parish Priest, was complained to his Bishop for letting a Church of Ireland Rector address his congregation from within the sanctuary.
Anyway, what I did pick up was that the Archbishop felt there was a need and a place for a particularly religious mission both at home and abroad over and above the secular humanitarian activities of NGOs and the State. The nature of that mission had changed over time and the challenge now was to ensure that it was relevant to the times we live in and that it makes a positive contribution to the human condition.
Again there was a lively Q&A session in the course of which the Archbishop was asked his view on the Ordinariate created within the Roman Catholic Church, the express purpose of which was to facilitate those Church of England priests who did not want to stay in their own church because it ordained women to the priesthood. The Archbishop considered it a disaster for its likely effect on ecumenism and the long term interest of both the churches concerned.
At the beginning of the talk, the Archbishop had put his audience at ease when he recounted how, passing the church recently, he came face to face with himself on the railings. You too can see what he saw, below.
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