FROM A ROME CORRESPONDENT THE Vatican has denied, through Archbishop Mayer, Secretary for the Congregation of Religious, that it has tried—as alleged in Italian newspapers —to "silence" Abbot Giovanni Franzoni, 0.S.B., of St. Paul's Outside the
Abbot Franzoni has been in the news in the past few years for his anti-war pronouncements and for the guitar Masses which each Sunday pack Roman youths into his basilica—and drive traditional Catholics out.
The monastery' which he heads at St. Paul's is one of 10 monasteries which comprise the Congregation of Benedictines known as Cassinese so called because they trace their origin to St Benedict's famous monastery of Monte Cassino.
While each monastery retains its . autonomy, they elect a four-member commission or "regime" from among their number who, in the words of Archbishop Mayer, also a Benedictine abbot, serve as a board of directors.
This regime, of which Abbot Franzoni was a member, failed to reach agreement on certain unspecified matters a few months ago. The president, Abbot Alberto Clerici, following normal procedure, asked the Vatican's Congregation for Religious to send an apostolic visitator as an arbiter.
The visitator recommended to the Vatican that a new regime be appointed temporarily until the Cassinese monasteries could hold a general chapter to elect a new governing board.
MISUNDERSTANDING The Italian press responded with derision. Typical remarks were: "The Vatican has appointed an emergency organism to reopen inquiries into Abbot Franzoni 's progressive activities."
"The Vatican dissolves the regime of St. Paul's."
"Vatican interference against the Benedictine regime."
If any of these allegations are true, Archbishop Mayer dismisses them by saying there is "much misunderstanding" by the Italian press."
He said in an interview: "The appointment of the temporary regime does not affect St. Paul's or Abbot Franzoni, who of course remains as the abbot superior.
It is true that Abbot Franzoni is no longer a member of the -regime, but nether are several others, about whom no fuss is being made."
He told journalists: "It often happens that this exact procedure is followed when the governing bodies of religious communities reach a stalemate. Please !put in your story that this is nothing extraordinary, and it is certainly not the tragedy depicted in the Italian press."
Communication is aim of new pastoral council
LANCASHIRE'S n e w town, Skelmersdale which has taken much of its population from overcrowded Liverpool, has set up its own Pastoral Council on the model of the Liverpool Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Liverpool was the first diocese in Britain to set up a Pastoral Council after Vatican II.
The Skelmersdale council is based on parish representation consisting of all the town clergy, all the head teachers and two representatives of each parish.
Its sub-committee, which will be involved in the problems of a new and developing town, cover communication, community development, family and social welfare, education and formation.
The newly-appointed press officer, Mr. Jim Murray, headmaster of St. Edmund's Primary School, said : "Externally we see the role of communication as the development of the Christian way of life in the town —e how this is being done now and how we see the future.
"Internally we are concerned about communication — from parish to parish, clergy to clergy and laity to clergy, and laity to laity. We want to fly a flag for Skelmersdale on the mass media channels. We want to let the people know who their representatives are on this council and what we can do."