FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
T' POPE last week strongly condemned liberal theologians who, he said, w re trying to re-shape the word of God according to their own thinking. "Free examination" of religious beliefs threatened to disrupt the very foundations of the Church.
He s4id Church authorities incl ding bishops and priests ould not "fail to meet their task and must give faithful testimony, at any cost, when that is necessary in matters of faith and divine law."
The Pope was critical of theologians whose attempts to adapt doctrine to modern though "is exposed to the danger of ambiguity, of reticence." lie wattled that, if their efforts prevail d, faith would disintegrate.
"Th difficulty of making themse yes understood is growing gr ater and greater in our day f r those entrusted with the mi sion of announcing the doctri e of the faith." the Pope said.
"How can we jealously retain the authenticity of the message of salvation, and at the same time make it acceptable to modern mentality?"
He declared that efforts to teach religious truths in modern terms were "praiseworthy and well-deserving," provided they did not get out of hand.
Reaffirming his own right to teach what was true, the Pope said: "This observation would suffice to prove the goodness of the divine design, which wants the revealed Word, contained in scripture and apostolic tradition, to be protected by a communications channel, by a visible and permanent teaching authority, authorised to guard, interpret and teach that Word." The speech was taken by observers to be another of his increasingly anguished reprovals of those who have confronted him with a crisis of authority by refusing to accept his pronouncements on such issues as birth control, priestly celibacy and obedience.
It was made five days after the "Declaration" by a commission of six Cardinals on the Dutch Catechism (reported fully in the CATHOLIC HERALD last week).
The Declaration demanded that the Dutch Hierarchy revise the Catechism to stress traditional Church views on angels. the virginity of Mary and the presence of Christ as flesh and blood in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist.