IN spite of protests by six local Nonconformist ministers, Cardinal Heenan preached last night in Rochester Cathedral. The ministers were incensed that a Cardinal should be invited to speak in an Anglican cathedral for the first time since the Reformation.
The Cardinal, who was preaching the first of three sermons on the theme "Belief in Christ"—the others will be by Orthodox and Presbyterian clergy—said the fact that he was there was a sign of a change of outlook both in the Church of England which invited him and in the Church of Rome which allowed him to accept.
"Yet I am not altogether happy to be in this pulpit because the. time has not yet come for my community to throw open its pulpits to Christians of other denominations. Some might think it unfair of to preach. But there were other considerations besides reciprocity. The invitation came a year ago when I could not
truthfully plead a previous engagement. To have refused might have been regarded as unfriendly, if not discourteous.
"I have come into the pulpit this evening with more than my customary trepidation. It is always humbling to preach the word of God. The responsibility is all the greater now that I am to address Christians of a different allegiance.
ACCEPTABLE TO ALL
"I can only promise not to speak of those teachings of my own Church which are officially repudiated by the Church of 'England. But to talk of belief in Christ in terms acceptable to all Christians would be manifestly impossible."
One of the chief reasons for the contemporary confusion, in theology-is "what is thought to be modern biblical scholarship", said the Cardinal. "Publishers know that there is always a safe market for new versions of the Bible. . . .
"While theologians tend to seek exclusively biblical sources for religious truth, luny Scripture scholars have become involved in the task of what they call demythologising. They are trying to discover what, if anything, actually took place as related in the Gospel. Always remember that these are conscientious men who are friehds, not enemies, of Christ.
"No newspaper reporters followed the Master and the apostles across the lake of Tiberius, along the banks of the Jordan, or down the narrow twisting streets of Jerusalem. No shorthandwriter took down the Sermon on the Mount. . .. The Gospel account of the life of Our Lord was written down years after His death.
WORDS ADAPTED "Examining the narrative, many modern scholars declare that is was in a literary form which permitted writers to adapt words and even actions to the characters they were describing. Their task is so to interpret these literary forms as to determine exactly what they say about the historical events on which they are cehtred. . . .
"Time was when the disputes of theologians were their own affair. Controversy was kept within academic circles. In an earlier generation scholars would have gloated over the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, hugged them to their bosoms and returned stealthily to their monasteries and universities to study and to write.
"Today we have a different kind of scholar. When he finds old mnauscripts the first thing he looks for is a public relations officer. Next he seeks out an agent to arrange television appearances and sell his articles to the popular Press."
Belief in Christ was a gift, said Cardinal not "something we work out. It is more like being able to sing, paint or write poetry. We can take no credit to ourselves if we have the gift, nor may we condemn those without it.
A LADEN LORRY prepares to move families going back to the safety of their home regions in the aftermath of the tribal warfare that has been racking Nigeria.
Bishop John Aggey, of Lagos, recently lamented the loss of peace and the loss of prestige throughout the world because of the riots between Moslem northerners, the Hausas, and the southern lbos, many of whom are Catholics.
Speaking of Africa's largest nation, the bishop said: "The giant is bruised and battered, mutilated by self-inlikted wounds. Only by curbing the irresponsible ones by whatever action is necessary to Impose rigid control and discipline can we face the future with confidence In God and In our own ability to solve our problems with His help."
The only report of an attack on Christian missionaries came from Jos, In the north, where a group of Hausas reportedly entered a Catholic hospital seeldng to kill the wounded Ibos being treated then. They were persuaded to leave by a visiting priest.