IRISH TIMES ARTICLE




CoI Dean resigns over heresy controversy Tue, May 7, 2002, 01:00

The Dean of Clonmacnoise, the Very Reverend Andrew Furlong who faced being defrocked for publicly stating he did not believe in the divinity of Christ tonight announced his resignation. Dean Furlong, resigned just three days before a heresy hearing as the Church of Ireland Court of the General Synod was due to resume. The Dean, 51, caused a storm last year when he published an article claiming that Jesus was "neither a mediator nor a saviour, neither super-human nor divine". The comments led to the first heresy hearing of the Dublin-based Church of Ireland Court of the General Synod in more than 100 years. It adjourned last month after just one day, allowing the Dean more time to prepare his case.

The County Meath-based churchman had vowed to fight an accusation, by the Bishop of Meath and Kildare Richard Clarke, that he had published beliefs contrary to the doctrines of the Church of Ireland. But the Church said in a statement tonight: "The Dean of Clonmacnoise, the Very Reverend Andrew Furlong announces that he has resigned with effect from today as the Dean of Clonmacnoise and the rector of Trim and Athboy. "In the light of this resignation the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke, has withdrawn the petition which he presented to the Court of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland." Dean Furlong wrote in an article entitled A Faith Fundamentally Flawed: "With the deepest respect for others and their beliefs, to my mind, Jesus, and John the Baptist also, were mistaken and misguided 'end-time' prophets. "Jesus was neither a mediator nor a saviour, neither super-human nor divine; we need to leave him to his place in history and move on."

After his comments, backed up by media interviews in which the Dean said he had held his views for 30 years, he had his episcopal authority withdrawn. Last month he declined an invitation from Bishop Clarke to resign, prompting the hearing of the Court of the General Synod.

The court is the supreme and final court of the Church which sits with three House of Bishops judges and four lay-judges, under the chairmanship of Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames.


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