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The Church of Ireland Irish: Kirk o Airlann [2] is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second largest Christian church on the island after the Roman Catholic Church. Like other Anglican churches, it has retained elements of pre-Reformation practice, notably its episcopal polity , while rejecting the primacy of the Pope. In theological and liturgical matters, it incorporates many principles of the Reformation , particularly those espoused during the English Reformation.

The church self-identifies as being both Catholic and Reformed. The Church of Ireland considers itself Catholic because it is in possession of a continuous tradition of faith and practice, based on scripture and early traditions, enshrined in the Catholic creeds, together with the sacraments and apostolic ministry. When the English Parliament declared that the Holy See had no power over the Church in England, the Church in Ireland also conformed, assuming possession of most church property and so retaining a great repository of religious architecture and other items, though some were later destroyed.

The church explains its possession of so many of the ancient church buildings of Ireland by reference to the precedent set by Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century:. Since the days of the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century European states saw themselves as having a central role in the government of the Church. This church-state link was vigorously applied when the Normans came to Ireland in the 12th century.

Bishops were required to do homage to the king for their lands, just like earls and barons, who were vassals of the crown. It was therefore accepted, both during and after the Reformation, that the Crown should continue to exercise that authority over the church, in which it continued to play a central role. In this way, church property that existed at the time of the Reformation, buildings included, was retained by the Reformed, Established state Church of Ireland.

In Ireland, a considerable majority of the population continued to adhere to Roman Catholicism despite the political and economic advantages of membership in the state church. Despite its numerical minority, however, the Church of Ireland remained the official state church until the Irish Church Act disestablished it on 1 January , under Queen Victoria and her Liberal government led by William Ewart Gladstone. The Church of Ireland claimed that in breaking with Rome the reformed established church was reverting to a condition that had obtained in the church in Ireland prior to the 12th century — the independent character of Celtic Christianity.

Modern scholarship, however, sees the early Irish church as different to but still a part of Roman Christianity, with the result that the Church of Ireland and the Irish Roman Catholic church can both claim descent from St Patrick. Claims of legitimacy for the Norman invasion of Ireland were derived from a Papal Bull of — Laudabiliter , although the governing structures in Ireland had never acknowledged any external authority over Ireland. The bull claimed to give King Henry II of England the right to invade Ireland, ostensibly as a means of reforming the church in Ireland more directly under the control of the Holy See.

By the time of the English Reformation , the Donation had been exposed as a forgery, and Henry VIII sought to undo by enforcing laws regarding praemunire the historic royal homage to the Papacy that was delivered by John, King of England before him. The Church of Ireland is the second largest church in Ireland and the third largest in Northern Ireland , after the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches. The church was initially restricted to Dublin , driven by its bishop, George Browne.

The pace of reform in quickened after under Edward VI , ended when his sister Mary I restored Catholicism in ; her reign was largely characterised by inertia. When Elizabeth succeeded Mary in , only five Irish bishops accepted the Elizabethan Settlement , leaving the new administration with little alternative but to replace the vast majority. For example, Hugh Curwen backed the reforms of Henry and Edward, but accepted appointment as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin in by Mary, then became a Protestant under Elizabeth and was later charged with moral delinquency by Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Armagh.

A gradualist policy was adopted, similar to that used for Catholic areas in Northern England, leading to "church papist" clergy and laity. Officially abandoned in , the practice of 'occasional conformity' persisted in both England and Ireland well into the midth century. This was continued after his death in by his assistant, John Kearny, and Nehemiah Donnellan , Archbishop of Tuam , completed by Donnellan's successor William Daniel and printed in A translation of the Old Testament was prepared by William Bedel, Bishop of Kilmore — , but not published until in a revised version by Narcissus Marsh — , Archbishop of Dublin.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Church was largely confined to the English-speaking minority in The Pale. The Irish majority remained Catholic and Scots settlers in Ulster were initially members of the Church of Ireland, but from the s established an independent Presbyterian church. Clergy continued to be imported, but there were also Irish born ministers, such as the church of Ireland's leading theologian and historian, James Ussher , Archbishop of Armagh from to In the Church of Ireland drew up its own confession of faith.

Similar to the Church of England's 39 Articles , they were more detailed, less ambiguous and often explicitly Calvinist. Under Charles I , the Church of Ireland claimed to be the original and universal church, while the Papacy was an innovation, thus vesting it with the supremacy of Apostolic succession. During the Irish Confederate Wars , nearly two-thirds of Ireland was controlled by the largely Catholic Confederacy. In , Giovanni Battista Rinuccini became Papal Nuncio to Ireland; however, the Confederacy also included significant numbers of Royalist members of the Church of Ireland while Irish Catholicism had developed greater tolerance for Protestants and hostility to elaborate ritual.

Rinuccini's refusal to compromise with the Church of Ireland and the re-introduction of ceremonies such as foot washing divided the Confederacy and contributed to its rapid collapse in the Cromwell's re-conquest of Ireland. The church was re-established after the Restoration of Charles II and in January , meetings by 'Papists, Presbyterians, Independents or separatists' were made illegal.

In , the Catholic James II became king with considerable backing in all three kingdoms; this changed when his policies seemed to go beyond tolerance for Catholicism and into an attack on the established church. His prosecution of the Seven Bishops in England for seditious libel in June destroyed his support base, while many felt James lost his right to govern by ignoring his coronation Oath to maintain the primacy of the Protestant religion.

This made oaths a high profile issue, since ministers of the national churches of England, Scotland and Ireland were required to swear allegiance to the ruling monarch. This led to the Non-Juring schism , although for the vast majority, this was a matter of personal conscience, rather than political support for James. The Irish church was less affected by this controversy, although the Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh became a Non-Juror, as did a handful of the clergy, including Jacobite propagandist Charles Leslie.

The Church re-established control and the Bishop's Banishment Act expelled Catholic bishops and regular clergy from Ireland, leaving only the so-called secular clergy. In , the Test Act was extended to Ireland; this effectively restricted public office to members of the Church of Ireland and officially remained in place until the Catholic Relief Act.

However, the practice of occasional conformity continued, while many Catholic gentry by-passed these restrictions by educating their sons as Protestants, their daughters as Catholics; Edmund Burke is one example. The Toleration Act allowed Nonconformists freedom of worship, while the Irish Parliament paid their ministers a small subsidy known as the 'regium donum. Although willing to permit a degree of flexibility, like their English counterparts, Irish bishops viewed their status as the national church to be non-negotiable and used their seats in the Irish House of Lords to enforce this.

However, in Parliament passed the first in a series of 'temporary' Indemnity Acts, which allowed office holders to 'postpone' taking the oaths; the bishops were willing to approve these, since they could be repealed at any point. In the 17th century, religious and political beliefs were often assumed to be the same; thus Catholics were considered political subversives, simply because of their religion.

During the 18th century, sectarian divisions were replaced by a growing sense of Irish autonomy; in , Bishop Berkeley issued an address to the Catholic clergy, urging them to work together with the church in the Irish national interest. At the same time, one archbishop and three bishops from Ireland selected by rotation were given seats in the House of Lords at Westminster, joining the two archbishops and twenty-four bishops from the Church of England. In , the British Government introduced the Irish Church Temporalities Bill which proposed the administrative and financial restructuring of the church.

The bill sought to reduce the number of both bishoprics and archbishoprics from 22 to 12, to change the structure of the leases of church lands and to apply the revenues saved by these changes for the use of parishes. The bill not only had implications for the future political trajectory of the Whigs and Tories but also sparked the generation of the Oxford Movement , [ citation needed ] which was to have wide repercussions for the Anglican Communion.

As the official established church, the Church of Ireland was mainly funded by tithes imposed on all Irish subjects of the Crown. Irrespective of the fact that the adherents of the church were never more than a small minority of the populace, the population at large was expected to pay for its upkeep. Following the defeat of Roman Catholic arms in , no armed resistance was to be expected to this discriminatory policy.

Nevertheless, peasant resentment of the tithes occasionally boiled over, as in the " Tithe War " of — Eventually, the tithes were ended, replaced with a lower levy called the tithe rent charge. The last remnant of the tithes was not abolished until disestablishment in The Irish Church Act which took effect on 1 January finally ended the role of the Church of Ireland as the state church. Disestablishment terminated both state support and parliament's role in its governance, but also took into government ownership much church property.

At the establishment of the state church, no compensation had been given to Roman Catholic clergy who suffered loss in the seizure of church property by the state; at its disestablishment, compensation was provided to clergy by the state. With disestablishment, the church's representation in the House of Lords also ceased. The head of the Church of Ireland is, ex officio , the Archbishop of Armagh.

In , immediately prior to its disestablishment, the Church provided for its internal government, led by a General Synod, and with financial and administrative support by a Representative Church Body. Like other Irish churches, the Church of Ireland did not divide when Ireland was partitioned in the s and it continues to be governed on an all-Ireland basis. The polity of the Church of Ireland is episcopal church governance , as in other Anglican churches.

The church maintains the traditional structure dating to pre-Reformation times, a system of geographical parishes organised into dioceses. There were more than 30 of these historically, grouped into four provinces; today, after consolidation over the centuries, there are 12 Church of Ireland dioceses or united dioceses , each headed by a bishop and belonging to one of two surviving provinces.

The leader of the southern province is the Archbishop of Dublin , at present Michael Jackson ; that of the northern province is the Archbishop of Armagh , at present Richard Clarke. These two archbishops are styled Primate of Ireland and Primate of All Ireland respectively, suggesting the ultimate seniority of the latter. Although he has relatively little absolute authority, the Archbishop of Armagh is respected as the church's general leader and spokesman, and is elected in a process different from those for all other bishops.

Doctrine, canon law, church governance, church policy, and liturgical matters are decided by the church's general synod. The general synod comprises two houses, the House of Bishops and the House of Representatives. The House of Bishops includes the 10 diocesan bishops and two archbishops, forming one order. The House of Representatives is made up of two orders, clergy and laity. The order of clergy holds one third of the seats while the laity holds two thirds of the seats.

The general synod meets annually, and special meetings can be called by the leading bishop or one third of any of its orders. Changes in policy must be passed by a simple majority of both the House of Bishops and the House of Representatives. Changes to doctrine, for example the decision to ordain women as priests, must be passed by a two thirds majority of both Houses. The two houses sit together for general deliberations but separate for some discussions and for voting.

While the House of Representatives always votes publicly, often by orders, the House of Bishops has tended to vote in private, coming to a decision before matters reach the floor of the synod. This practice has been broken only once when, in , the House of Bishops voted unanimously in public to endorse the efforts of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Diocese of Armagh and the Standing Committee of the General Synod in their attempts to resolve the crisis at the Church of the Ascension at Drumcree near Portadown.

The church's internal laws are formulated as bills proposed to the Houses of the general synod, which when passed become Statutes. The church's governing document, its constitution, is modified, consolidated and published by way of statute also, the most recent edition, the 13th, being published in The representative body of the Church of Ireland, often called the "Representative Church Body" RCB , is the corporate trustee of the church, as established by law, and much of the church's property is vested in it.

The members of the RCB are the bishops plus diocesan delegates and twelve co-opted members, and it meets at least four times a year. The staff of the representative body are analogous to clerical civil servants, and among other duties they oversee property, including church buildings, cemeteries and investments, administer some salaries and pensions, and manage the church library.

While parishes, dioceses, and other parts of the church structure care for their particular properties, this is often subject to RCB rules. The Church of Ireland embraces three orders of ministry: These orders are distinct from positions such as rector , vicar or canon. Each diocese or united diocese is led by its Ordinary, one of the ten bishops and two archbishops, and the Ordinary may have one or more Archdeacons to support them, along with a Rural Dean for each group of parishes.

There is a diocesan synod for each diocese; there may be separate synods for historic dioceses now in unions. These synods comprise the bishop along with clergy and lay representatives from the parishes, and subject to the laws of the church, and the work of the general synod and its committees and the representative body and its committees, oversee the operation of the diocese. Each diocesan synod in turn appoints a diocesan council to which it can delegate powers.

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Although Ireland is often viewed as very conservative and religious, there are a few places in Dublin that cater to the gay crowd. A few gay bars smatter the city, and any gay visiting Dublin should be sure to check them out. Daddies in Dublin should be sure to hit up places like The George , one of the longest-standing gay bars in Dublin. Often with an older crowd, this bar is a little divey but common among local gay guys.

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Church of Ireland

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