Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was present at the service, while there was also a representative of the Republic’s president Michael D Higgins, together with the Stormont Minister of Rural Development and Newry and Armagh MLA, Danny Kennedy, and former Ulster Unionist politician, Lord Kilclooney.
Dr Clarke called on Christians to mirror the actions and language of God. The 63-year-old primate said the God they worshipped was “a God of beauty and truth” and Christians should live their lives by this model.
Dr Clarke said: “We live in a culture within which anger within which anger rather than courtesy is the most prevalent behavioural pattern. True courtesy is not simply good manners, but means generously going further than we actually have to go, in our service of another individual.”
He added: “If, as St Augustine tells us, the weak are to be cared for, the faint-hearted comforted, the uneducated taught, the sluggish awakened and the good encouraged; if the agitators are to be rebuked, the conceited put in their place, the quarrelsome held back, and evil people to be endured, and all of them to be loved, it can only be when we hold – before our eyes and in our hearts – the image of Jesus Christ who calls us to be his co-workers together in his service, and in serving his world.
“It can also be, when we have learnt to model – in all that we say and do – the courtesy of God.”
Dublin-born Dr Clarke, who succeeded the Reverend Alan Harper as Primate after 18 years as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, was a leading theologian and academic in the Church of Ireland. He had spent most of his church career in the Republic, but served two years as curate in Holywood, Co Down, parish in the late 1970s.
The service of enthronement was conducted by the Dean of Armagh, the Reverend Gregory Dunston.
Dr Clarke warmly welcome clergy from other Christian traditions who had come to share in their Anglican worship.
He said bishops were called to lead in serving and caring for the people of God and to work with them in the oversight of the church.
“As chief pastors, they share with their fellow bishops a special responsibility to maintain and further the unity of the church, to uphold its discipline, to guard its faith and to promote its mission throughout the world,” he said.
All Christian ministry, said Dr Clarke, whether local or in the wider context, “is collaborative”.
The Primate said: “As St Paul insisted (and repeatedly), we are co-workers with God, and with one another; we are to work together, in collaboration with one another, as within the Body of Christ. The bishop or archbishop is not the custodian of endless supply of magic wands to solve every problem, much as people may pretend to believe otherwise.
“No one can refuse to take individual responsibility on behalf of the whole body when such is required. And so, it cannot mean – whether for any of us as individuals, or for all of us collaboratively – that we are to be paralysed either into dithering indecision or into a self-imposed trappist silence on anything of consequence.
“There are also indeed those times when the individual – in whatever capacity – must make final decisions that are not popular, neither popular or populist. And nor is silence enjoined on any of us.”