[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Members of the official Anglican-Orthodox dialogue have met this week to discuss a range of bioethical and moral issues. The discussion was “a practical follow-up” to their agreed statement In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology, which was published last year after their talks in Buffalo, New York. At this week’s talks in Armagh, Northern Ireland, the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD) began to explore issues including contraception, abortion, reproductive technology, stem cell research, organ transplants, artificial life support, assisted dying and euthanasia.
The Commission studied four papers unpacking the themes: Christian Ethics and the Beginning and End of Life: Themes in Anglican Reflection, by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Bioethical Themes: Transplants and Euthanasia, by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kition; Survey of Anglican Church Documents on Beginning and End of Life Issues, by the Revd Canon Philip Hobson; and Medical Bioethics: An Orthodox Christian Perspective for Orthodox Christians, by Protodeacon Basil Andruchow.
“What is new for Anglican-Orthodox dialogue is the discussion of morals, and the practical outworking of the common vision of the human person finalised last year in the agreed statement,” the Anglican Communion’s director for unity, faith and order, the Revd Canon John Gibaut, said. “This year’s meeting signals a new direction, which is both theological and deeply pastoral.
“It was a remarkable event of serious study, combined with ecclesiastical diplomacy, engaging the life of the Church of Ireland, and just praying together, attending one another’s celebrations of the Eucharist in the hope and faithful anticipation that one day we shall be able to celebrate together.”
In their communiqué, members of the Commission spoke of the “blessing and illuminating presence of St Patrick, the apostle to the Irish.” They said that the Commission continued its work “in the spirit of St Patrick, venerated in both the eastern and western churches, as it sought the deeper unity of Christians in witness to the Gospel of Christ in the world.”
Mr Gibaut added: “Patrick lived and ministered at a time when eastern and western parts of the church were one; he belongs to our common heritage.”
The ICAOTD will continue to reflect on these issues when they meet again in September next year.