BY A STAFF REPORTER
ANNUAL refresher courses for priests involving a re-orientation of attitudes suggested by Vatican II, the first of their kind in Britain, are to be offered this year at Wood Hall Pastoral Centre, Leeds.
Mgr. Michael Buckley, director of the centre, which last year ran courses attended by 23,000 laymen and clerics, said: "We will do anything to widen the spiritual horizons of those who come here. We hope to build them up gradually year by year, the priest first attending for a couple of weeks then three weeks to -a month the following year.
"The courses will be a process of re-education for priests, a spiritual renewal leading to a re-orientation of attitude. Among other things they will deal with the idea of parish councils and the ecumenical movement."
The philosophy behind the course is that which inspires much of the activity at Wood Hall, Mgr. Buckley said. "Vatican II renewal is not working because Catholics start from the false principle that the Church is clerical. Renewal through the hierarchy.
Controversy a sign of life Cardinal
ANY impression that the Catholic Church was crumbling under widespread unrest was not accurate, Cardinal Gordon J. Gray of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, told the St. Andrews University Theological Society.
He said that the vast majority of Catholics quietly accepted the consequences of the Second Vatican Council.
In an age of ceaseless questioning many of the disciplinary laws made by the Church were being questioned and sometimes opposed. As a result, the cardinal said, a distorted picture could sometimes emerge when the voices of extremists became loud.
"The very fact there is controversy does not worry me one little bit," he said, "because surely that is a sign of life. If there was silence. then I would worry."
led by bishops, is not succeedMg."
Mgr. Buckley continued : "The reason for this is the loss of influence of the bishops, though they are not really to blame. Since Vatican II the bishops have much more to cope with, many more problems and a lot more work. The dioceses are also too large.
FAITH "SHAKEN" "Another difficulty is that those priests who were brought up on pre-Vatican II ideas and who have not altered them are automatically against the ideas of the latest council.
"Many old priests genuinely regard it as a sell-out. This leads to friction between older parish priests and their curates, though attitudes need not necessarily be related to age," said the 47-year-old monsignor.
"The flood of paperbacks on Theology has also meant the laity are taking an interest in the subject and the controversies.
"We see our principal job at Wood Hall as reconciliation of different theologies. Many Catholics in their 40's including religious, have been shaken in their faith by new developments.
"Young people today. the 15to 25-year-old group, have also been brought up as ques tioning Catholics," he said.
"They have lived through controversies on celibacy, birth control, and the authority of the Pope. But the Church has traditionally been an answering Church. Young people now see allegiance to Christ as coming before allegiance to a Church.
"Wood Hall aims at reconciling these differences in run• ning leadership courses and courses for young professional groups such as teachers, nurses and also clerics.
"Many non-Catholics attend and the centre has also I think become a focal point for Christian Unity in the North. A third of the letters i receive art from non-Catholics who have been here and we reach former students through a bi-monthly bulletin," said Mgr. Buckley.
£10,000 RAISED He added : "We also try to practise practical Christianity. Between October and December the centre raised over £10,000 for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who visited us last year."
Wood Hall has expanded continually since it first opened under Mgr. Buckley's direction in 1967. Its director is convinced it has "exerted a deep influence on the spiritual lives of thousands of people."