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Continuing concern at CITC

The appointment of a new lecturer to the Church of Ireland Theological College (CITC) will complete the staffing numbers there. Several changes have taken place in recent years.

The rank and file within the Church of Ireland have continuing concerns about our one theological college. These concerns include:

  1. The fact that no member of the staff has exercised pastoral ministry as a Rector in Northern Ireland where the vast majority of our people live. Indeed only two members of the College staff have served as rectors within the Church of Ireland and one is due to retire this year. This imbalance is a severe weakness in the all-round training of ordinands.
  2. The new member of staff comes, we understand, from within the liberal catholic tradition. While this is one tradition within the Church of Ireland, it is not a majority position; even though the ethos of the College might suggest otherwise. We regret that the Reformed-Protestant position (Preamble and Declaration) is not represented in the present staffing arrangements. The appointment of another member of staff from the Church of England seems strange in view of the fact that Irish ordinands are not allowed to train within English theological colleges or elsewhere in the Anglican communion.
  3. The method of appointment to the staff at CITC needs to be clarified. We had understood that the new College Council appointed staff on behalf of the Church of Ireland; yet at the time of the appointment of the present Principal last year a separate interviewing panel was involved - two of whom came from the Church of England! [One member of that panel was a well known liberal Old Testament scholar (though none of the selection panel could be regarded as conservative),who, we understand, was an adviser to the Dean of Clonmacnoise in the recent controversy.] Concern has been heightened by reports that scholars of international repute were not even interviewed at the time of the appointment of the principal last year. The culture of secrecy that surrounds the theological college needs to be re-examined. Surely the Church could learn from secular models here!

In recent times college staff have served on selection panels (the former CACTM). We regret this in view of the present ethos of the college and some excellent candidates have been given ‘rough’ interviews. The bias against the North and against orthodox/conservative candidates must be removed. Issues of justice are involved here. Also debatable is the oft-quoted claim that the Church of Ireland is a ‘comprehensive’ church.

30th May 2002

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