Catholic Herald Reporter
ARCHBISHOP HEENAN of Westminster was given a tremendous reception when he told the annual meeting of the Council of Christians and Jews, in London, that the Vatican had lifted a ban restraining Catholic participation in this Council's work.
He added that the situation would soon he fully restored to what it had been before November 1954, when all Catholic members, clerical and lay. resigned from the Council.
Archbishop Heenan told the hushed audience that the resignations on that occasion had been requested by the Holy See. They included that of Cardinal Griffin, then Archbishop of Westminster.
Many people, lie recalled, had been "disappointed even scandalised" by the decision.
(Since 1962, however, the Earl of Perth and two Catholic laymen have served on the Council with ecclesiastical approval.) Explaining the resignations of 1954, Archbishop Heenan said the Vatican had been alarmed at reports that an International Council of Christians and Jews was being founded along lines incompatible with Catholic principles.
The Holy Office took the view that the British Council was largely in sympathy with ideas expressed in a draft constitution for this inter
"It is possible and even probable that the Vatican was misinformed," Archbishop Heenan said. "Nevertheless, despite Cardinal Griffin's plea for further investigation, Catholics were ordered forthwith to resign.
"The English Hierarchy was most reluctant to withdraw," Archbishop Heenan declared, "because there was the feeling that their withdrawal was demanded through at least a partial misunderstanding. But Bishops can hardly expect obedience from their own flocks if they themselves are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Holy See," Archbishop Heenan added. "In this case, however, it was a reluctant submission."
The ban remained despite numerous efforts to have it removed.
"Even as recently as 1961, despite the unanimous request of the English and Welsh Bishops that Catholics be allowed to rejoin the Council, the Holy Office replied .sianduni in dechis—'the original decision is confirmed'." Archbishop Heenan said.
When, however, Archbishop Heenan and another Bishop eventually went in person to the Holy Office to request suspension of the ban there was a successful outcome.
"Cardinal Ottaviani, despite the reputation given him by angry young journalists. is a very reasonable man," Archbishop Heenan declared, to subdued laughter from the audience, "and he agreed that the ban might now be removed.
"We are not, of course, quite hack where we were in 1954," Archbishop Heenan smiled. "But we must be patient and not harass a graceful retreat. Soon all will be as before."
As principal speaker at the meeting, which was chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, Archbishop Heenan took as his subject the Continued on bark page, col. 3