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15 July 2009

Putting Christ at the centre: the Rt Revd Christopher Hill on ARCIC

Putting Christ at the centre: the Rt Revd Christopher Hill on ARCIC

ALTHOUGH the House of Bishops and the Council for Christian Unity (CCU) had expected a debate on the Anglican-Roman Catholic Interna­tional Commission (ARCIC) 1994 agreed statement Life in Christ, the Business Committee had decided that it would be better studied in group sessions on the Saturday morn­ing. So, on Friday evening, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, prepared for these with a presentation.

The Synod had a “warts and all” briefing paper from the CCU, pointing out some “serious defi­ciencies” in the statement. Life in Christ had rightly broken new ground, in treating ethical issues as part of communion, and therefore of ecumenical dialogue.

“There is here a move away from a focus on particular acts or omissions towards a vision of the whole person in communion with God and with the human community.”

Life in Christ was, as the background papers said and as Professor Oliver O’Donovan had pointed out in 1994, surprisingly thin historically on both Anglican and Roman Catholic moral theology. It was perplexing that Caroline moral theology had not been flagged.

Bishop Hill wanted to emphasise the importance of motive — of putting Christ, not self, at the centre of the universe.

Monsignor Andrew Faley (Roman Catholic Church) said that all had a sense of right and wrong, but the con­cern was how people related to one another. As a Roman Catholic, he had been taught as a child that mortal sin resulted in “hell for all eternity”. But to be Catholic was not to be guilty: it was to recognise the relationship between principle and practice, “the Lord encouraging us to move through the reality of our lives to be more like him”.

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