Church of Ireland Primate to make a statement on the environment at Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke, will make his views on the environment known at an event in Lambeth Palace in September 2018. The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited all presiding bishops and moderators of the 39 provinces of the Anglican Communion to make a written submission to be displayed at Lambeth Palace and online during the Season of Creation from 1 September to 4 October 2018. The idea came about from the primates meeting in October 2017.

It is clear that environmental issues such as climate change are very important to the primates. This was reported by Archbishop Richard Clarke himself at the January 2016 Standing Committee, as the minutes recorded,

“Archbishop Clarke relayed that hearing directly about climate change had had a profound impact upon him – from the reality of islands in the south Pacific disappearing into the ocean through rising water levels to parts of east Africa becoming desert again though intentional deforestation.”

He also reflected and spoke about it in his Presidential address at the Armagh Diocesan Synod in 2016 when he spoke about the Five Marks of Mission,

“… we have to take responsibility for our use of creation, not simply for future generations here in this country but also for present generations in other parts of God’s world today.”

So Archbishop Clarke has been affected by what he has heard, but how forthright has he been in raising the issue? Well, not much is the answer.

The most important statement of the year for the Archbishop is the Presidential Address at General Synod and the topic of the environment has not been a priority in recent times. The last time the issue was stressed was in 2009 by the archbishop Alan Harper. He outlined the dangers posed by climate change in his 2009 presidential address and said,

“The church can and must exert maximum moral influence within all those societies throughout the world where Christians are to be found.”

Words like this have not been used in recent times.

It will be interesting to see Archbishop Clarke’s contribution to the Lambeth Palace event in September 2018. Will it simply emphasize the green and pleasant parish lands of the Church of Ireland? It is certainly good to celebrate the beautiful creation that we have been blessed with in this country.

Or will he be bold and use this opportunity call for another green revolution? To speak prophetically and call for greater care for creation, to reduce emissions, to leave fossil fuels in the ground, to reduce waste and the help those suffering around the world due to a changing climate.

Perhaps the Presidential Address in Armagh in May 2018 will prioritize our responsibility to care for creation, for present generations and those in need in other parts of God’s world today.


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