ALAN McELWAIN'S ROME DIARY
THE Vatican is, of course, pleased with the appointment of Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge as President Nixon's personal representative to the Holy See. The United States now has some sort of diplomatic link with it.
Naturally. the Vatican would have preferred someone with full ambassadorial rank, but as next best thing, it welcomes the prospect of Mr. Lodge coming to Rome two or three times a year to explain President Nixon's views to Pope Paul and to solicit the Pope's views in return.
Mr. Lodge is the first representative a U.S. President has appointed to the Holy See since Mr. Myron C. Taylor was Ate personal envoy of, first, President Roosevelt, then President Truman, from 1939 to 1950.
Visit to Australia
POPE PAUL is looking forward to his trip to Australia in November with the "Genuine, deep sincerity of his heart". He has told Bishop Myles McKeon, of Bunbury, West Australia. that he has heard so much about Australia with its great people and great priests and other religious, that he is now keen to be in their own country with them.
Pope Paul sent his blessing to Australia and all Australians. During a private audience with Bishop McKeon the Pope. who will be 73 on September 26, remarked on the great distance between Rome and Sydney. where he will be attending an episcopal conference of the Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Islands bishops, Bishop McKeon found him in great spirits and "wonderfully relaxed". He told the Pope he was going from Rome to Ireland. where he will shortly ordain 20 new priests from various parts of the world at his old college—All Hallows, Dublin.
Pope Paul gave him a set of rosary beads for each priest and asked him to take a message to them. "Tell them," he said, "to be faithful to the great tradition Ireland has for devotion to the faith and to the tradition of those priests who have gone before them, some of whom died for the faith."
Bishop McKeon also told the Pope that he had recently been in Manila. which Pope Paul will visit before going on to Australia, for a conference of the Apostleship of the Sea The Pope has always been deeply interested in this. There is much speculation in Australia and New Zealand about the possibility of Pope Paul extending his trip beyond Sydney.At present, all that is known is that he is going to Sydney specifically to attend the episcopal conference of all the bishops of Oceania. One rumour is that after the Pope has completed his visit to the Philippines to attend an episcopal conference of the Far East bishops in Manila before he goes on to Australia. he could stop off briefly in Saigon to repeat on the spot his constant pleas for a peaceful solution of the Vietnamese problem. He had wanted to go there more than two years ago. but was dissuaded on security grounds.
AFTER strong protests by liberals and socialists, Vatican Radio bioke oil a series of propaganda sessions it was running during a recent campaign for regional. municipal and provincial elections throughout Italy. The broadcasts aimed mainly to support the ruling Christian Democrat (Catholic) Party and to undermine the proposed introduction of divorce into Italy for the first time.
The Vatican was already deep in a Church-State row over the controversial divorce issue before its latest intervention into the political field. The issue was not really relevant to the recent elections and its introduction was seen by opponents of the Christian Democrat Party. which alone opposes the divorce measure in Parliament, as outright interference by the Vatican in state affairs.
THE use in the Vatican Radio sessions of Christian Democrat speakers was also instanced as evidence of the Vatican's support of its "own" party's interests, to the disadvantage of other political factions.
While this controversy within a controversy raged, the Italian Foreign Minister. Signor Aldo Moro, a Christian Democrat, and the Justice Minister. Signor Oronzo Reale, a Republican. had the first top-level talks at the Vatican on the pending divorce legislation with the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Jean Villot, and the secretary of the Church's Council for Public Affairs, Mgr. Agostino Casaroli. Another talk is set for June 15.
The government undertook to arrange these discussions before the Divorce Bill, already passed. last November, by the Chamber of Deputies, would be debated, later this month, by the senate, which is also expected to pass it.
Pope Paul has vigorously contended that the introduction of divome into Italy would violate the 1929 Concordat, or Lateran Treaty. establishing relations between the Holy See and the Italian State. At the elections, held last weekend. Italians voted for 690 seats in 15 new regional assemblies, of which until now there have been only five.
The regional. municipal and provincial polling is a distinct pointer to the national standing of Premier Mariano Rumor's shaky coalition of Christian Democrats, two Socialist parties and the Republicans, and alsolo the prospects of the Italian Communist Party. now hotly aspiring for a share in government.