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Church of Ireland

From Academic Kids

The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion, operating seamlessly in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Claiming direct unbroken descent from the beginnings of Irish Christianity, it is the largest Protestant Church on the island of Ireland and the second largest Protestant denomination in the United Kingdom province of Northern Ireland.

The Church of Ireland would trace its origins to the ancient Celtic Church in Ireland, which was founded by Patrick and developed usages of its own that were abandoned in the twelfth century in favour of those in south Britain and the west of the continent of Europe. It claims that it, rather than the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, continued that Church when King Henry VIII broke with the Holy See and English state Protestantism was established under Henry's children, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, making it the Irish sister of the Church of England and the Kingdom of Ireland's established Church. Ireland's ancient cathedrals and other churches have remained in its possession.

Some clergymen of the Church of Ireland sat as Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords. Under the provisions of the 1801 Act of Union, one archbishop and the three bishops chosen by rotation would be Lords Spiritual, joining several bishops from the Church of England.

Though the religion of a minority of Irish people, it remained the official religion of Ireland, until its disestablishment by an 1869 Act of Parliament came into effect in 1871. Previously, it had been funded by tithes, taxes that all, whether Anglican or not, were obliged to pay to it. The representation of the Church in the House of Lords also ceased.

To deal with its new situation, it made provision in 1870 for its own government (General Synod) and financial management (Representative Church Body). Like other Irish Churches, it did not divide when Ireland was partitioned in 1920, and continues to be governed on an all-island basis, with twelve dioceses organized as two provinces (Armagh and Dublin).

Contents

The Church of Ireland today

The contemporary Church of Ireland, despite having a small number of High Church parishes, is on the moderately Protestant part of the spectrum of world Anglicanism. Historically, it had little of the difference in churchmanship between parishes characteristic of other Anglican Provinces, although a number of more markedly liberal, High Church or evangelical parishes have developed in recent decades. It was the first Province of the Anglican Communion to adopt, on its 1871 disestablishment, synodical government, and was one of the first Provinces to ordain women to priesthood, in 1991.

The Church is structured on a model inherited from pre-Reformation times. The Primate of All Ireland is the Archbishop of Armagh, whose seat is the mediaeval Saint Patrick's Anglican Cathedral, Armagh. (There is also a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and a Victorian Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Armagh.) The Church is organised on diocesan or bishopric lines. Local parish clergy are usually, although not always, called rector. The Archbishop of Dublin, like his Catholic counterpart, is called the Primate of Ireland. The existence of two primates is quite unrelated to the political division of the island, predating this by several centuries; and the boundary between their provinces does not follow the political boundary.

Canon law and Church policy are decided by its General Synod, and changes in policy must be passed by both the House of Bishops and the House of Representatives (Clergy and Laity). Important changes, e.g. the decision to ordain women priests, must be passed by two-thirds majorities. While the House of Representatives always votes publicly, often by orders, the House of Bishops has tended to vote in private, coming to a decision before matters reach the floor of the Synod. This practice has been broken only once, when in 1999 the House of Bishops voted unanimously in public to condemn the violence of Orange Order members at the Church of the Ascension in Drumcree.

The current Archbishop of Armagh is His Grace Archbishop Robin Eames. (He is also called Lord Eames, having been appointed to the House of Lords as a life peer). The Archbishop of Dublin is His Grace Archbishop John Neill.

The Church of Ireland experienced major decline during the 20th Century, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. However, the 2002 Republic of Ireland census showed an unexpected increase of 30% in the Church of Ireland's membership, the first in almost a century. This is largely explained by the great number of Anglican immigrants who moved to Ireland, particularly from Africa; but some parishes, especially in middle-class areas of the larger cities, report a significant number of former Roman Catholics joining.

The Church has two cathedrals in Dublin: within the walls of the old city is Christ Church Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop, and just outside the old walls is St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Church's National Cathedral of Ireland.

In recent decades the Church has closed many of its country churches and some historic churches in towns and cities, and has sold ancient buildings such as bishops' palaces.

Prominent Irish Anglicans

Prominent members of the Church of Ireland include or have included

See also

External links

ga:Eaglais na hireann ja:アイルランド聖公会

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