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.
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