Wednesday 10 April 2013

Another JP2 miracle? - Rev. Stephen Dickinson gets his just desserts

I have been rather enjoying the recent kerfuffle involving the Reverend Stephen Dickinson.

He has been removed from office at Cairnalbana and Glenarm churches following an internal probe by the  judicial commission of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

You can read the details in the BBC and Belfast Daily which reports:

In a statement last week, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said: “It is with regret that the judicial commission has concluded that the minister’s usefulness has been seriously impaired and that he has, in part by his own actions, placed himself in a position where it is impossible for him to satisfactorily discharge the duties of his charge.”

Before you begin to roll out your sympathy [Editor: Unlikely for readers of this blog] you may wish to recall that the Rev.  Stephen Dickinson is a former deputy grand master and grand chaplain of the Orange Order.  He left the organization in 2011, claiming it had ” betrayed its roots “. Two years earlier, he had set up the hard line independent group Orange Reformation, which campaigned to "put Protestantism back into Orangeism".

In his days as Orange chaplain he used to do impressions of Pope John Paul II who was suffering from Parkinsons disease.  His hiliarious skit included making spastic movements.  He was so obnoxious that even fellow Orangemen and unionists were embarrassed by him.  From the Breaking News report:

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Dillon said today that Mr Dickinson had also caused great offence last September at the Lord Mayor of Lisburn’s inaugural dinner.

“He left a lot to be desired. There was nearly a walkout because he was derogatory about the Catholic faith and the Pope.  Any Catholics that were there were offended. Some Protestants also felt uncomfortable,” he said.

Sam Foster, a former Stormont Environment Minister, who had to retire because of Parkinson’s disease, labelled his impression of the Pope an absolute disgrace.

“You don’t make mockery of Parkinson’s disease. You don’t make a mockery of any disease whatsoever,” he said.  “I think it is totally and entirely uncalled for, grossly offensive and very, very insulting.”

Alliance councillor for Belfast David Alderdice said that while religious leaders should be allowed a sense of humour, Mr Dickinson’s actions displayed a lack of understanding and sensitivity.

“Making jokes at the expense of someone who was extremely ill at the time, no matter who it was, is something Rev Dickinson obviously needs to think hard about,” he added.

For added amusement you can check out Ivan Foster's comments (Free Presbyterian) on a letter Dickinson wrote attacking Fr Alec Reid.  For every hard line Protestant clergyman there is a harder one waiting in the wings.  Foster rebukes Dickinson for using the term "Father" in "speaking of one who is purveyor of Romish nonsense".  He admonishes him further for quoting "a translation of the Holy Scripture other than the Authorised Version when he refers to the verse in Matthew 12:34. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,”.  His use of such another version is but evidence that you “cannot live in Rome and fight with the pope”!

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