“WISE, unhurried, simple and trustworthy” leadership is needed more than ever from both Church and state rather than the “considerable amount of chaff” that is flying around the world today, the Bishop of Clogher has said.

Speaking in his opening address to the Clogher Diocesan Synod 2017, the Rt. Rev. John McDowell said that, a year ago, he had identified “growing inequalities” both between and within nations as a very ominous background against which to view contemporary political and social developments.

He said: “I am no less wary this year of what is going on around us in the wider world and cannot help feeling that a quality of leadership - wise, unhurried, simple and trustworthy - is needed more than ever both in church and state, rather than the considerable amount of chaff that is flying around in parts of the world today.”

Guests at this year’s Synod, which was held in St. Macartin’s Cathedral Hall on Thursday evening, included David Ritchie, the Chief Officer and Secretary General of the Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland, and Simon Henry, of the Church of Ireland Youth Department.

The Bishop also welcomed a trio of representatives from some of the other churches in the area - Rev. David Cupples, of Enniskillen Presbyterian Church, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, the parish priest of St. Michael’s in Enniskillen, and Rev. William Newell, of the Methodist Church.

In a wide-ranging address, Bishop McDowell warned against an individualism which he said was becoming “so prevalent”.

He said: “One of the principal tasks of a leader is to communicate reality to those who wish to take his or her lead, and the reality that I observe all around me, not just in Church but in every sphere of life, is a mood of impatience with other points of view, of an increasing narrowing of vision and of a drawing back from the sort of commitment that creates sustainable and worthwhile communities.

“It is hardly an exaggeration to call these developments the triumph of individualism and I sometimes think that the word “individual” should be banned from Christian conversations and replaced by a word like “person” to reflect the complexity and value which each of us has - what we share as much as what we need.”

The Bishop added: “This individualism which is so prevalent in our world and sometimes in our parishes is the enemy of reasoned debate and very far from the spirit of Anglicanism.”

However, the high-ranking cleric told the Synod that he believed the antidote to this “strange perversion of the liberal spirit” was in the smallness and diversity of the parish.

He said: “It is what I meant when I said last year that the parish is the place where we create local significance in a globalised world. The parish is the place where you simply cannot turn your back on other people’s personality, ideas or eccentricities.”

He also revealed that he is hoping to set up a small Diocesan group to organise fundraising and support for a care home project in Rwanda set up by former Killyleagh rector Rev. Jerome Munangaju and his wife Mary, who have returned to their native country.