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Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology2021-12-09T11:34:03+00:00

The Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology

As a lay Catholic Institute in the heart of Cambridge and part of the Cambridge Theological Federation, we resource lay people theologically both within and outside of the Catholic tradition. We provide specialist theological education and open learning opportunities for both individuals and groups.

We offer courses, study days, workshops, seminars and conferences that promote the study of theology, ethics, philosophy, pastoral practice, spirituality and theological reflection in dynamic ways that seek to meet and address twenty-first century global needs. In line with our foundational principles, we continue to promote the resourcing of women through a community life that is open to all. Through our teaching and learning we facilitate exchange with art, culture and social justice initiatives. We resource schools, parishes, hospitals, prisons and other institutions with expertise, training and pastoral support. Our theology engages with different professional and community-based (service) needs and perspectives. This is enriched and enabled by an interdisciplinary approach that is at the heart of our educational work. Many of our students gain qualifications from the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University (DTM, BA, MA, MPhil, PhD, DProf).

Portrait of Lady Margaret Beaufort by Meynnart Wewyck Image supplied by: St John’s College, University of Cambridge

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View the lecture HERE

A Reflection by the Director, Dr Liam Hayes

Inaugural Lecture

Launch of the Centre for Ecclesial Ethics

A Different Church is possible:

embracing an ecclesial ethics of vulnerability

Become a samaritan church, a church of vulnerable accompaniment, that our vulnerable God calls us to be – this was the call that echoed warmly amongst more than 210 participants who gathered online for the launch of the Centre for Ecclesial Ethics and its inaugural lecture delivered by Professor James Keenan SJ on 2nd December 2021. It was a launch that was woven together through an evening of art, music, personal reflection, and a courageous and authoritative inaugural lecture that unveiled our dreams for a different vulnerable Church that is ‘open to the newness that God wants to suggest.’

Professor Keenan opened his moving and energising lecture, that explored the possibility of a different Church, with an authoritative exposition of an ecclesial culture that resists vulnerability and recognition, a culture epitomised in the scourge of hierarchicalism that has wounded and disfigured our Church for too long. Such hierarchicalism, which he identified as the ‘father of clericalism’, has allowed the episcopacy to remain cocooned from accountability and clothed with impunity, through a neglect of the humility and vigilance that has impeded our church from embracing an ecclesial ethics of vulnerability, that both imitates the vulnerability of God and appreciates the indwelling of the Spirit in every person.

Through the cultivation of an appreciation for vulnerability and recognition in our wider ethical discourse, Professor Keenan proceeded to re-imagine for us, in dialogue with our scriptures, tradition and experience, the different church that our Pope calls us to embrace. In a powerfully crafted re-exposition of both The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son, Jim unveiled the potential for a church of accompaniment, that is prompted by recognition and vulnerability, and nurtured by the virtues of humility and vigilance.

Jim concluded with a moving appreciation of the diverse models of vulnerability, recognition and accompaniment that are signs of a different church, the seeds of which are around and before us in the Catholic Church today, and which serve as bright beacons for our future as a different Church – a Samaritan church – that embraces and reflects the vulnerability of our God.

Our evening concluded with a passionate and stimulating dialogue between Jim and our lecture participants that serve to underline the need and desire for a different possible Church in our world of today.

We are most grateful to Jim, not only for his incisive, moving and authoritative lecture – that opened up for us more clearly the contribution that ecclesial ethics can make to realising a good and better Church that is more participatory and inclusive, discerning and attentive, accountable and just – but also for his ongoing support and encouragement for the Centre for Ecclesial Ethics.

Thank you.

Dr Liam Hayes

Director | Centre for Ecclesial Ethics

December 2021

Background to the Centre for Ecclesial Ethics

The Centre for Ecclesial Ethics has been established with the aim of enabling, empowering and equipping the Church local and universal, as communities and individuals, to become a good and better Church in its witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the pilgrim people of God.

The Centre is at home within the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge and is located within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Its focus is however both within and beyond the ecclesial shores of the United Kingdom, where it hopes to develop and sustain mature relationships and partnerships of learning and practice with the wider international Christian community.

The Centre finds its academic home within the domain of ecclesial ethics, yet engages across disciplines, and its foundational method is one of dialogue and encounter, that is rooted in listening and learning.

More information about the Centre can be found here.

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