We have not ‘humiliated’ US counterparts: Church of Ireland archbishop

Archbishop Richard Clarke, pictured in May 2015
Archbishop Richard Clarke, pictured in May 2015

The leader of the Church of Ireland has said that their US counterparts have not been “humiliated” by a decision to bar them from having any decision-making role in the Anglican church for three years.

Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke (pictured) was speaking after the leaders of Anglicanism worldwide issued a statement on Thursday saying that they had made the ban against the Episcopal Church due to its backing for gay marriage – something powerfully opposed by the conservative African wings of Anglicanism, among others.

On Friday, he had issued only a short statement to the News Letter, which said: “The language of the Primates Gathering and communiqué was ‘not about sanctions’ but rather wanting to walk together and create safe distance in order to do so over the coming years.”

Speaking on Sunday to the BBC Radio Ulster show Sunday Sequence, he said: “It was difficult in some respects, but I’m not being too pious when I say that there was a strange sense – and I really mean this – that somehow God was at work in the middle of it...

“What I think I’d want to say about the statement is that people do need to read it very carefully rather than the headlines that some people have put on it.

“I’m not being cynical, but politically it has to be said that those who wanted massive sanctions (and we never used the word ‘sanctions’) wanted to hype up what had happened...

“Those who wanted to, if you like, push – as they’re entitled to do – an agenda which is about gay marriage, I have to say wanted to say ‘look the Americans have been sanctioned, they’re being humiliated.”

He added: “The reality is they haven’t.”

The Episcopalians were not simply being put on the “naughty step”, he said.

He said the agreement to put some formal distance between the Episcopalians and other parts of the Anglican communion was designed to keep the whole body together, but allow “breathing space”.

He also said he did not believe God was “homophobic”.