Church of Ireland's rejection of baptism for children of unmarried mothers is 'shameful,' says bishop

(Photographed by Andreas F. Borchert)Bottom feature of the center stained glass window in the north transept of Carlow Cathedral of the Assumption, in Ireland showing St. Patrick Preaching to the Kings. Created by Franz Mayer & Co. in the 19th century.

Despite the overwhelming support of lay delegates, the rejection of a motion to allow all children of unmarried mothers to be baptized in the Church of Ireland at its General Synod in Armagh has received clerical and lay criticism.

The narrowly defeated motion had called on the Synod to acknowledge "as a reality of modern life that infants are often born to single parents and/or to couples who are not married," The Irish Times reported on May 12.

The Church of Ireland is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

According to statistics cited by the newspaper, over 40 percent of births in Ireland are outside of marriage.

In a vote on the motion, 69 clergy members were in favor with 72 against, while 144 lay delegates were in favor with 83 against.

After the clergy rejection, the motion fell.

Bishop Michael Burrows told his congregation at St Mary's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Limerick that he was "cross" following the vote and wondered "whether the Church of Ireland is still the place I thought I knew and loved."

After the motion failed, the Church of Ireland General Synod member who proposed it, which called for infants to be baptized "irrespective of the marital status of the parents," said she was disappointed that it was rejected.

She said it sends the message that we are going back to a time "when clergy could judge a woman."

The defeated motion sought to ensure that the child of an unmarried mother must not be refused Baptism.

That motion was proposed by Prof. Patricia Barker of Dublin and Glendalough diocese and seconded by Lynn Wright of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh diocese.


Separately, proceedings at the General Synod, in the Armagh City Hotel, were disrupted for a short period while it was in session, with a protest by Martina Burke and members of her family.

Burke's son Enoch, who had been a teacher at the Church of Ireland-run Wilson's Hospital School in County Westmeath, is currently in Mountjoy Prison over his failure to comply with an order to stay away from the school.

Enoch Burke has refused to comply, saying that would, in his eyes, equate to "giving up" his religious beliefs and endorsing "transgenderism," the Irish Times reports.

Burke, an Evangelical Christian, was suspended from Wilson's Hospital School after allegedly confronting the school's head teacher and disrupting school events after being directed to use the "correct pronouns" of a transgender student.

The teacher was jailed, not for his refusal to use the correct pronouns, but because he refused to accept his suspension and continued to go back to the school, Pink News reported.

Separately, on May 15, Today, FM asked, "Why has the Church of Ireland's General Synod voted against a motion to allow all children of unmarried mothers to be baptized?

Most of the 5.23 million people in the Republic of Ireland are Roman Catholics (69.2 percent), according to the CIA Factbook. Protestants account for 3.7 percent of the population with those belonging to the Church of Ireland making up 2.5 percent.


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