SEARCH Journal

Spring 2024


Given the turmoil in the Middle East filling our thoughts and prayers ever since October 7th last, we are thankful that the key leaders of Dublin’s Jewish, Islamic and Church of Ireland communities agreed to come together to reflect on how people of faith should act and pray for peace in the Holy Land. Their conversation heads this issue of SEARCH.

Running a close second in recent faith-related discourse has been the rising tide of activity and proposals as Pope Francis coaxes the Roman Catholic Church towards less hierarchical decision-making structures, recognising the dignity of the whole People of God and the cultural differences between nations and continents. “Synodality” is the catch-all word for this process, which has been accelerating for the past two years and is due for completion at the end of 2024. It would be a mistake for Anglicans to see the Catholic Church as finally catching up with our way of doing things. The inspiration relates more to Vatican II and St Francis than to Martin Luther; and while our 150 years of synodal government might seem to give us an advantage, the freshness of the approach in Rome may well help us adjust our own practice. In both churches, meaningful lay involvement in decision-making is key; but how that is best achieved may be open to question. We are grateful to Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, Dean Stephen Farrell, and Nicola Brady of CTBI, for their perspectives shared in this issue.

A third most popular subject for discussion must surely be Artificial Intelligence, and how it may help or harm us, whether in the Church or in society in general. Christopher West has contributed a thoughtful article which will be particularly helpful to the uninitiated. Next, as a follow-up to our Pioneer Ministry theme of the autumn, we welcome Church Army evangelist Marian Edwards’ story of her call to ministry and her witness in Ballina. Before the book reviews, we conclude with memories of Abp Justin Welby’s contribution (from trauma-struck Jerusalem) to the Mind Matters Conference in Dublin last October. After his opening “Job style lament”, his description of his own personal vulnerability gave an example to stressed-out clergy wherever they might be. The writer,
Michael Buchanan, is a retired garda now entering Church of Ireland ministry as a deacon. There’s commitment for you!


Israel, Gaza and Palestine - what hope can our faith traditions offer?

Archbishop Michael Jackson in conversation with Rabbi Yoni Wieder, Communal Rabbi of Ireland Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri, Chief Imam of Islamic Centre of Ireland

Archbishop Michael Jackson
Archbishop Michael Jackson
Yoni Wieder
Shayk Umar Al-Qadri
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Synodality and the Churches: the current process in the Catholic Church

THE CATHOLIC Church worldwide is formally ‘in Synod’ from 2021- 2024, the event’s final phase being the current Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome (October 2023 and 2024.) Remarkably, over 20% of its 363 voting members are non- bishops, and 54 of these are women.

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ
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Synodality Issues in the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland

SYNODICAL GOVERNMENT is fundamental to the polity of each of the 39 autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion. It is both an instinct and a legal requirement, but one which risks becoming tired. By contrast the Roman Catholic Church has embarked on a Synodal Way which is fresh and new. I have had the benefit of reading the masterful article by Gerry O’Hanlon SJ on Synodality and the Churches and will respond with my own musings on synodality issues facing both denominations.

Stephen Farrell
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Ecumenical Engagement with Synodality

AMONG the many innovations of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican during October 2023, was the Together 2023 ecumenical prayer vigil that preceded it. Announcing the invitation to fellow Christians around the world, Pope Francis stated that “... the path towards Christian unity and the path of the synodal conversion of the Church are linked” (Osservatore Romano, 20 January 2023).

Nicola Brady
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Artificial Intelligence in the real world: from science fiction to church pews

THE LINES between yesterday’s science fiction and today’s reality are increasingly blurred. In classic episodes of Star Trek, characters used futuristic devices, which allowed people to make calls across vast distances. Today, we have smartphones that not only make calls but also provide instant messaging, video conferencing, and access to the vast swathes of information on the internet.

Christopher West
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The call to evangelism: Who will go? A personal story

ONE QUESTION I often ask people is “Who inspired you in your faith by their example?” In my case it was my father. He loved God, prayed daily and loved to sing hymns in church. Faith has always been a part of my life and as I grew in my faith, I loved to tell others about Jesus.

Marian Edwards
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C of I ‘Mind Matters’ - majoring on Abp Welby’s contribution from Jerusalem

IN OCTOBER 2020 the Church of Ireland launched an initiative entitled “Mind Matters”, aiming to address the issue of mental health in the community. It might be seen as fitting that, after last autumn’s conference concluding the project’s first three year period, the Sunday Gospel presented us with the greatest commandment, also invoking the frequently overlooked imperative - that in loving our neighbour, we must also love ourselves.

Michael Buchanan
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