CATHOLIC HERALD REPORTER
APROPOSAL that Catholics should be attached as permanent observers to the British Council of Churches will be voted on at the Council's halfyearly meeting to be held.at the Baptist Church headquarters in London on April 27.
This move follows the decision last February by the Vatican to set up a joint committee with the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
The Rev. Kenneth Slack, general secretary of the BCC, told the CATHOLIC HERALD this week that the resolution which the executive committee will recommend to the Council's 130 members will he as follows:
"The Council, understanding that the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales would welcome an invitation to send observers to meetings of the Council, gladly extend an invitation."
The decision to put forward the proposal follows informal discussions between the BCC and Catholic Church authorities. I understand that it is likely to be agreed by the Council and accepted on the Catholic side.
Up to now, Catholics have acted as observers to some BBC departments. They include Fr. Bernard Leeming, S.J. and Fr. John Maher, S.J, of Heythrop; Mgr. H. Francis Davis of Bearwood, Birmingham; Er. Thomas Corhishley, Si., of Farm Street and Fr. Denis Ryan of Oscott.
As yet, however, Catholics have acted only as observers and not as members on the BCC. Authorities on Church unity agree that the question of full membership will not be precipitated by any decision to appoint full-time observers in England. It is generally held that such matters will have to be discussed first at the Rome-Geneva level before any national action can be taken.
The authorities predicted this week that the new move would be a major impetus to Church unity on local levels. They expressed the hope that cooperation between Catholic and local Church Councils, which has been confined to a few areas, will now take on new dimen tional lay groups to work closer England and Wales.
The official lead, which the authorities are now expected to give, will allow interdenominational lay groups to work closer and to co-ordinate their activities, especially in the social fields.
It is also interpreted as an important step towards removing any prejudices which may still exist between denominations in areas which do not involve doctrinal differences.
The British Council of Churches was formed in 1942, under the leadership of Archbishop William Temple of Canterbury. It was designed to bring together the British Churches which were co-operating in various fields and to coordinate their work.
It now contains almost all the Churches in the British Isles with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church. Its 130 members. most of whom are direct representatives of the major Churches, meet every six months.
The Council is divided into six main departments: Church Aid Social Responsibility, International, Education, Faith and Order. and Youth.