Senior Church of Ireland cleric gets enthroned in Armagh 18 months later than planned

The Most Reverend John McDowell was enthroned as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland last night at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the Hill of Armagh.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:31 pm
Archbishop John McDowell knocks on the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, with his crozier before the Service of Enthronement

Archbishop McDowell was elected to the office by the House of Bishops on March 11 last year having previously served as Bishop of Clogher since 2011.

He took up the senior position with the Church of Ireland the following month having succeeded The Right Reverend Richard Clarke.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Service of Enthronement for the new Archbishop, which usually takes place close to their election, did not take place in 2020 and due to restrictions earlier this year, plans for the service were put on hold again.

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The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin, presents the Metropolitan Cross to Archbishop John McDowell

Last night’s service was livestreamed at and it is hoped that a much larger event, a liturgical welcome, for the Archbishop will be possible on a future date.

Archbishop McDowell said in his sermon: “A Service of Enthronement usually marks the beginning of a Bishop’s ministry in his new Diocese, and in the case of the diocese of Armagh, as the Primate of All Ireland, in the Anglican obedience.

“That is manifestly not the case today, as I have been loitering in these precincts, persecuting clergy and parishes in this diocese, and trying my best not to wreck the RCB and the Standing Committee for nearly eighteen months now.”

He went on to reflect on the Cross of Jesus and the true meaning of sacrifice: “Sacrifice is not as it has been so often caricatured – some form of self-mutilation.

“In a relationship it is not the submission of a woman to a capricious tyrant of a husband or of a poor person to an unjust social system.

“Any human relationship or political or social arrangement which does not allow the sacrifice of reciprocal self-giving room to flourish will ultimately crumble, because it is founded on falsehood.

“On a reef of sand.

“And that is so because sacrifice is at the heart of the nature of God, who made us in his image.”

Earlier the Archbishop had been welcomed to St Patrick’s Cathedral by the Very Revd Shane Forster, Dean of Armagh.

The Bible readings during the service were Numbers 21:4-9 by the Ven Elizabeth Cairns, Archdeacon of Ardboe, and John 3:13-17 by the Revd Dr Heather Morris, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

Music was provided by the Choir of the Cathedral and the Revd Dr Peter Thompson, Assistant Organist.