CNI NEWS @ 0600 – Feb 12, 2018

Christian Aid reveals sexual misconduct investigations, interview with incoming Moderator, DUP deputy leader visits mission centre, disagreement over Evangelical Alliance on abuse terminology… and more with links to media reports

Christian Aid reveals sexual misconduct investigations following Oxfam accusations

In the past 12 months, Christian Aid has investigated two incidents of sexual misconduct, both of which occurred overseas.

It announced on Sunday that one investigation led to the dismissal of a staff member, while the other case resulted in disciplinary action (not dismissal).

The Christian relief agency said in both cases, no laws were broken but “the staff members involved did not live up to the standards and expectations outlined in our code of conduct”.

It said one of the instances was “a case of failings in adequate safeguarding”, which was reported to the Charity Commission.

Christian Aid’s comments come after Oxfam has been accused of covering up the use of prostitutes by aid workers in Haiti in 2011. It is facing mounting criticism over its handling of the allegations of sexual misconduct.

Although the charity has denied covering up the alleged scandal, Christian Aid said the claims are “deplorable”.

“We are saddened by the accounts of deplorable behaviour from a group of individuals who have abused their power, exploited their position, and sought to subvert systems designed to protect vulnerable people in Haiti,” the charity stated.

“Through their unacceptable actions, they have undermined the vital, effective and life-changing work carried out by Oxfam, as well as by other aid and humanitarian organisations worldwide.”

It was love at first sight for incoming Moderator

In 1990 at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Assembly Rev Charles McMullen met his wife to be, Graeme Cousins writes in the News Letter.

Nearly 30 years later he will return to the General Assembly in June to officially take over the reigns as Presbyterian Moderator. Rev McMullen told the News Letter about some of the key moments in his life to date, including meeting his wife Barbara and the men in the pulpit who inspired him.

The 57-year-old, who has been minister at West Church in Bangor since 1999, explained how he met his wife: “We had a mutual friend at that stage who shared a house with Barbara. The mutual friend invited me along to a dinner party that Assembly week in 1990.

“That was June, we started going out in September, we were engaged within six weeks and got married the following May. “I’m normally a very cautious person. It wasn’t too far off love at first sight.” He added: “She has been totally supportive and encouraging – 100% behind me all the way. Sometimes she would bristle at the idea of being introduced as a minister’s wife. She would quickly add, ‘and a person in my own right’.”

Born and educated in Omagh, Rev McMullen, along with his family, worshipped at the town’s Trinity Presbyterian Church. Mr McMullen graduated with Joint Honours in French and German from Trinity College, Dublin in 1982 and was awarded his MA in 1985.

Read more at: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/incoming-moderator-our-eyes-met-across-the-room-it-was-almost-love-at-first-sight-1-8373692

DUP Deputy Leader visits C of I mission centre on Shankill Road

Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast and Deputy Leader of the DUP, visited Connect Base, the Connor Diocese / Church Army Centre of Mission in Shankill Road, on Friday February 9.

Mr Dodds was invited by Mr William Humphrey, DUP MLA for North Belfast. Also present were Belfast City Councillor Alderman Brian Kingston, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast; Nicola Verner of the Integrated Services for Children and Young People team, based at the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road; Mr Tom Scott from St Matthew’s Church of Ireland Parish; and representatives of Cavehill Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

Mr Dodds was welcomed by Connor Church Army Evangelist Sister Karen Webb, who introduced Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie.
Karen spoke about the various programmes and project the team at Connect Base are involved in, including the Baby Basics initiative to help new mums and their babies, the after school drop-in club which has 15 children on its register, the Transforming Lives For Good (TLG) programme which is partnering with Malvern Primary School offering one-to-one weekly coaching to children; and the North Belfast CAP which runs both a Job Club and the recently launched Lifeskills course.

Mr Dodds was very interested in all these projects, and asked a number of questions, before representatives of the Cavehill CAP spoke about their work in the community.

Read more at –

Evangelical Alliance: Don’t say ‘spiritual abuse’

Christians have been told not to use the term spiritual abuse.

A new report from the Evangelical Alliance (EA) said ‘spiritual abuse’ is a seriously problematic term because of its ambiguity.

Produced by the EA Theology Advisory Group (TAG), the report outlined how ‘spiritual abuse’ is a seriously problematic term because attempts by some to use it for safeguarding laws “would be unworkable in practice, potentially discriminatory towards religious communities, and damaging to inter-faith relations”.

Rev Dr David Hilborn, chair of the of TAG told Premier why he believes the term should be nixed.

“It’s important to start with the existing language of the law that applies to everybody and not create a special category just for religious people because that may single them out and make them subject to religious discrimination.

“Because the term by definition has to apply to all faith traditions, what it could do is set one faith tradition against another because they might disagree on theology and accuse each other of abusing the faith systems of the other, so we don’t want to see that kind of culture war.”
Rev Hilborn urged Christians to use other terms instead.

He said: “What we want to do is say that there is psychological abuse, there’s emotional abuse.

“That’s well defined legally, there’s case law on that. Let’s accept that sometimes that might take place on church premises and sometimes that might not.”

The guidance given by EA comes after The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) raised concern over the fact that two thirds of people say they’ve experienced what the group defines as spiritual abuse.

Christian Today has reported the Evangelical Alliance story thus:
Evangelical Alliance rubbishes ‘spiritual abuse’ language: It could ‘criminalise’ conservative teaching on sexuality.

Comment on Thinking Anglicans web site –

Jayne Ozanne is quoted in the EA report. Responding to the EA criticism she stated:
“I am deeply perplexed, as I’m sure others will be, as to why the Evangelical Alliance have seen fit to effectively dismiss the concept of Spiritual Abuse, rather than looking to work constructively with victims to create a safer and more caring Church. Their report contains various unfounded claims, which feed the notion that certain parts of the Church are under threat from secular society. Assertions such as “the use of Spiritual Abuse terminology has proliferated in such a way that its further use risks damage to fundamental freedoms of religious thought, expression and assembly” are at best defensive, and at worst scaremongering. In addition, I do not believe my paper has been fairly or accurately characterised and would urge people to read it for themselves.’
More at –

Bishop joins opposition to Sunday switch plan for Belfast marathon

Belfast Telegraph – A Church of Ireland bishop has voiced his opposition to a proposal for the Belfast City Marathon to be moved to Sunday.

The Right Reverend Harold Miller of the Down and Dromore diocese said the event should stay “open for all” including Christians who wanted to take part in the event.

He welcomed news that Belfast City Council had deferred a decision on shifting the race from its usual date on May Day Monday.

Bishop Miller said: “The objections raised have included the question of people being able to get to worship if the event is held on a Sunday, and roads are closed.

“In fact the issue is wider. The marathon on May Day Monday is one of those really important events in the city, because it is genuinely embraced by all.

“That includes a very large number of people who are practising Christians.

More at –


Belfast City Marathon: Church rector seeks quick decision on changes

Belfast Telegraph – The Rev Kevin Graham, Rector of St Bartholomews in Stranmillis, expressed mixed feelings on the proposed changes, which will take effect from 2019, and said he sympathised with those on all sides of the debate.

“There is potential for difficulties and there is real threat to church services, but we can be flexible with our worship times,” This is a great opportunity for us as a church to engage with the community in a positive way,” he said.

But the Church of Ireland minister and former marathon runner called on organisers and the council to reach agreement soon, adding: “This can’t keep being debated – it’s not fair.”

More at –

Irish church deserves to die, says outspoken Irish priest

IrishCentral – An outspoken priest in the Dublin archdiocese has written a highly controversial book entitled Five Reasons the Irish Church Deserves to Die. Father Joe MacDonald was a late vocation at 45, but 11 years later he is a highly popular figure in his home parish of St. Matthews in Ballyfermot, a working class …


Papal Nuncio apologises on behalf of Pope for ‘discouragement and disappointment’

Irish Times – The Papal Nuncio to Ireland has apologised, on behalf of the Pope, for creating, what he described as “discouragement and disappointment” in the Catholic Church.

Opening the Festival of Faith Conference in Galway on Saturday morning, Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo also criticised the media for reporting only negative stories about the Church. He said discouragement and disillusionment amongst followers of the Church was not a new thing and that Catholics were denying their faith out of fear of being branded conservatives and traditionalists. He then issued an apology on behalf of the Pope in the form of a prayer.

“One of the first things I want to do here today, on behalf of the Holy Father is to close my eyes and say I am sorry. We are sorry; for creating the disappointment. Just like Peter, who wept bitterly, I’m saying we are sorry. I am sorry for whatever discouragement and disappointment we created for you. May the Lord forgive us, amen,” he said.


Irish bishop promises ‘inclusive’ World meeting of Families after Vatican bars pro-LGBT politician

Lifesite – Several news outlets have reported that Mary McAleese had hoped to speak at a conference next month to mark International Women’s Day that was to be held on Vatican grounds. But, when a list of proposed speakers that included McAleese was allegedly submitted to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of …


Efforts to silence Mary McAleese reveal Vatican’s fixed thinking

‘Evil Monk’ who abused three young boys has jail sentence increased

“Evil Monk” Vincent Lewis was back in court on Friday to have his jail sentence of eight and a half years increased by a year for his abuse of three young boys…

… Lewis, whose brother, Fr Eugene Lewis is also a convicted paedophile, was told last month if he’d been a younger man he would have been jailed for longer for his 57 crimes of indecent assaults, gross indecency and buggery committed against the boys, including two brothers on differing dates, up to 1983.

More at –

Church of England and Methodist Church one step closer to uniting

The Church of England’s governing body has given its welcome to proposals which could unite the Church of England and the Methodist Church.

Members of the General Synod backed a motion on Friday welcoming a joint report published last year, which sets out proposals on how clergy from each church could become eligible to serve in the other.

The report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which was co-written by the two churches’ faith and order bodies, also sets out how the Methodist Church could come to have bishops in the historic episcopate.

The motion acknowledges that there is further work to do to clarify a number of areas, including how the proposals would be worked out in practice.

It also calls on the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission to update Synod at its next group of sessions in July on this work.

But an amendment to the motion speaks of “confident hope” that outstanding issues can be resolved quickly.

First Female Kirk Minister Dies

Life and Work – The Church of Scotland’s first female Minister of Word and Sacrament, the Rev Euphemia (Effie) Irvine, has died.

Mrs Irvine, who made history when she was ordained to the linked charge of Campsie Trinity with Milton of Campsie on June 1 1972, passed away on February 1, aged 93.

Paying tribute, former Moderator of the General Assembly, the Very Rev Lorna Hood described her as a ‘great communicator and exceptional pastor’ and ‘an inspiration’.
Mrs Irvine grew up in Whiteinch in Glasgow, where her parents were members of Jordanvale Parish Church. She was a housewife for 16 years before deciding to become a religious studies teacher. However, when she was a year into her course at Glasgow University, the Church of Scotland made the decision to admit women as ministers.

More at –

Albany USA promotes Downpatrick cross-community programme

The Times Union, a USA paper reports – One of their programs is the outreach to America via their Friends of St. Patrick through a summer two week visit to the Centre and environs of the Mournes, scenic Stranford Lough, Belfast and other wonderful places to work, study and play.  The Young Ambassador’s Program is a summer study program to foster a “greater understanding of the shared cultural interests of Northern Ireland and the work of Saint Patrick.”

US residents aged 20-25 actively enrolled in or graduates of an accredited higher educational program are eligible to apply for the two visit.  Airfare and stipend are provided by the Albany Chapter and accommodations and transportation are covered by the program.  Other costs are the responsibility of the participant.


Belfast’s Dock Cafe on Archbishop of Canterbury’s new web site

Thanks to Stephen Trew from Magheralin who spotted a photo of the Dock Cafe taken when the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Down & Dromore Diocese in October 2014. See –


The secret lives of Ireland’s Protestants

Acts of love and courage reveal God’s grace, says President Trump