Thursday, 30 April 2009

'Churches Together'? The Church Apart

Yesterday I went to a 'Churches Together' forum meeting, to discuss Issues in Human Embryology. There were three main speakers: a Catholic (from the excellent Linacre Centre), and two non-conformists.

The difference was stark. The non-conformist who had chaired a working group on the issues for the Methodists, URC and Baptists, was extraordinarily incoherent, morally and intellectually. A sample of her line of argument (though I flatter, calling it an argument...): 'We accord human status to the human embryo, but just as we treat children differently from adults. so it is appropriate to treat embryos differently from foetuses and from born children. So it is OK to experiment on them and kill them.' The other chap was not much better, equivocating and 'on the other handing' a lot.

The Catholic, Stephen Barrie, was by contrast intellectually and morally coherent, as well as compassionate and appropriately humourous. He laid out the ethical principles underlying the Catholic teaching on these issues, and explained them clearly and patiently. The contrast was extraordinary - and made me proud to be Catholic.

What the audience made of it was hard to read, as there was no open discussion, only written questions submitted and screened (mine weren't put to the panel...).

But for me, the difference was between well-intentioned people with no real coherence, and an individual teaching as one who had authority: the authority of the One True Church.


Patricius said...

It strikes me here that you touch upon a perplexing aspect of the whole ecumenical endeavour. If people cannot see the humanity of the human embryo what chance have they of recognising the Lord in the holy Eucharist?

Athanasius said...

That sounds about right to me. I posted the other day on why I regard the 'churches in partnership' or 'churches together' in this case as being a complete waste of time:

Ben Trovato said...


It wasn't so much that they couldn't see the humanity of the human embryo; it was more that having recognised that (at least as an idea) they can't take the next step of allowing that knowledge to have any effect on what else they believe or how they behave: ie they recognise the humanity of the embryo but still think it is OK to kill it...


As far as I can see, there is true ecumenism and false ecumenism.

True ecumenism is the charitable attempt to lead our separated brethren back to the One True Faith.

False ecumenism is the dialogue that seeks to establish common ground but in reality often simply dreams up formulae which each side can interpret according to their existing beliefs, or worse, misrepresents one or other side's beliefs (ARCIC being a case in point...)