Church of Ireland Synod Rejects Baptism Motion Amid Burke Family Protest

The Church of Ireland's General Synod rejected a motion to allow baptism of children born to unmarried mothers, despite strong lay delegate support. The vote revealed a clergy-lay delegate divide, with 69 clergy in favor and 72 against, versus 144 lay delegates in favor and 83 against.

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Nitish Verma
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Church of Ireland Synod Rejects Baptism Motion Amid Burke Family Protest

Church of Ireland Synod Rejects Baptism Motion Amid Burke Family Protest

The Church of Ireland's General Synod in Armagh has rejected a motion to allow the baptism of children born to unmarried mothers, despite strong support from lay delegates. The motion, proposed by Professor Patricia Baker and seconded by Lynn Wright, aimed to address the reality that over 40% of births in Ireland occur outside of marriage.

Why this matters: This decision highlights the ongoing struggle of religious institutions to adapt to changing societal norms and values, potentially leading to further divisions between religious leaders and their congregations. The implications of this rejection may also impact the Church of Ireland's reputation and influence in Irish society.

The vote results revealed a divide between clergy and lay delegates. Among the clergy, 69 voted in favor and 72 against the motion. In contrast, lay delegates showed stronger support, with 144 voting in favor and 83 against. The motion called for the baptism of infants "irrespective of the marital status of the parents."

Professor Baker emphasized the core issue, stating, "It hinges around whether being the baby of a single parent is lawful cause to refuse Baptism to that baby." She expressed concern that "in other cases, infants are refused Baptism by virtue only of the marital status of their mothers." Dublin delegate Dr. Lucy Michael echoed this sentiment, asserting, "It is the child that we baptise and not the parents."

The General Synod proceedings at the Armagh City Hotel on Saturday were disrupted for 45 minutes by a protest led by Martina Burke, the mother of imprisoned teacher Enoch Burke. Enoch Burke is currently being held in Mountjoy Prison for failing to comply with a court order to stay away from the Church of Ireland-run Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath, where he had been employed.

The rejection of the motion has sparked debate within the Church of Ireland regarding its stance on baptizing children born to unmarried mothers. The divide between clergy and lay delegates highlights the ongoing discussions surrounding the Church's practices and their alignment with societal changes.

Key Takeaways

  • Church of Ireland rejects baptism of children born to unmarried mothers.
  • Lay delegates (144) showed stronger support than clergy (69) for the motion.
  • Over 40% of births in Ireland occur outside of marriage, sparking debate.
  • Decision may impact Church of Ireland's reputation and influence in Irish society.
  • General Synod proceedings were disrupted by a 45-minute protest.