ALAN McELWAIN'S ROME DIARY
A GROUP of about 50 Australian and New Zealand children excitedly flocking about the Pope last weekend made one of the happiest audiences he has given during his seven-year Pontificate.
The Pope was receiving almost 7(X) Australians and New Zealanders in Italy at a special audience he gave to mark the bicentenary of Captain James Cook's discovery of the east coast of Australia.
After a speech, instead of talking, as expected. to individual adults in the audience. the Pope asked that all children present come up to him so that the Papal photographer could take a picture of them with him.
There was an immediate rush towards him. Pope Paul, obviously delighted, placed his hands on the shoulders of six-year-old Katherine Whitty, daughter of Mr. Robert Whitty, information officer of the Australian Embassy Migration Section, and Mrs. Whitty, while chatting informally to the children.
In his speech, the Pope said that although Australia and New Zealand seemed very far away, these "beloved countries" were very dear to him and always in his thoughts and prayers. "We wish to assure you of our oneness with you all." he said.
In the Vatican library, he added, there was an "unsig-ned note," seeming to date between 1780 and 1790, which dealt with Cook's Pacific explorations now being commemorated. The presence of this document was an early indication! of the Church's interest in the history of Australia and New Zealand.
"Our interest is constant," Pope Paul said. "We pray for your peace and prosperity and that, illumined by the Southern Cross, your countries may continue to make their special contributions to mankind."
The New Zealand Ambassador to Italy, Mr. A. D. McIntosh, briefly addressed the Pope. He presented him, on behalf of the New Zealand Government, with a book, "Cook's Artists in the Pacific," edited by Murray Oliver in a limited. edition and containing a series of prints done by Joseph Banks and other members of Cook's staff during his Pacific voyages.
The Australia Government, through its Charge d'Affaires, Mr. J. R. Holdich, presented him with a specially struck set of Australian coins.
In return, the Pope presented Mr McIntosh and Mr. Holdich With medals of his Pontificate.
Present at the audience were Bishop James Freeman, of Armidale, New South Wake, Bishop Reginald Delargey, Auxiliary of Auckland, New Zealand, Bishop Owen Snedden, Auxiliary to Cardinal McKeefry, of Wellington. New Zealand, and Bishop Andrea Katkoff, Bishop to Russian Catholics in exile who, previously, was chaplain to Russian Catholics in Australia.
Before the audience, there was speculation about whether Pope Paul would indicate his intention of visiting Australia and New Zealand, about which there has been talk for some time. He said nothing, but it is generally accepted in Vatican circles that he may be in Melbourne for the 1973 Eucharistic Congress. Earlier, at Propaganda Fidel College, attended by Australian and New Zealand students for the priesthood, Bishop Delargey concelebrated Mass with Bishop Freeman and Bishopy Snedden and the Rev. Dr. Patrick Dougherty, Australia Vice-Rector of the College.
THE POPE'S recent apostolic letter on mixed marriages, in which he didn't give much ground, has had a lukewarm reception from both non-Catholics and "progressive" Catholics.
Pope Paul takes the view that the problem can never be fully resolved until Christian unity is fully restored—a view reiterated by Cardinal Jan Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. The Secretariat, however, saw the Pope's document as a step forward, in that, by no longer insisting on a promise by the non-Catholic partner to allow children to be brought up as Catholics, it removed much of the previous "coercion." It is interesting to look back on the history of the efforts to resolve this mixed marriages problem, described by Anglicans as one of the greatest sources of exasperation and hurdles •to understanding between the Anglican and Catholic communions.
Full responsibility for handling the question was passed to Pope Paul in November, 1964, It had been debated on the closing day of the Vatican Council's third session and the bishops, rather • than make a hasty decision, voted I ,S02 to 427 to ask the Pope personally to settle it. In the debate, Cardinal (then Archbishop) Heenan created controversy among Catholics and non-Catholics by saying that only rarely was the non-Catholic partner to a mixed marriage a "really active" member of any religious community. But he also added a much-appreciated plea for the Catholic Church to show herself as "a real mother, not only to Catholics but non-Catholics as well." He said that "if the Church grants a dispensation she should do so graciously, magnanimously and in an openhanded way. The wedding day should be beautiful and happy even though the marriage is a mixed marriage." Since those days, as we know, non-Catholics have been able to marry Catholics with a full Catholic ceremony, instead of the hate-in-corner affair it was so often. before. As efforts towards Christian unity strengthened, mixed marriages were termed "the test case of ecumenism." A turning-point in Anglican-Catholic relationships came in March. 1966, just before the arrival in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, on his history-making visit to Pope Paul. Then the Vatican issued an instruction on mixed marriages. In this, it maintained the old stand that a mixed marriage must take place before a Catholic priest. It also insisted that promises must be given, though not necessarily in writing, to educate children of mixed marriages as Catholics. However, it abolished the former excommunication pe-nalty for Catholics who married before a nonCatholic priest.
Before this document was released, Dr. Ramsey had told the Convocation of Canterbury in London that the Vatican Council had done a great deal for which Anglicans could all be thankful and it had provided many tasks and opportunities both for Catholics and Anglicans. But Anglicans awaited practical action by the Church of Rome which was urgently needed in such matters as mixed marriages. Then, in Rome, after his cordial' meeting with Pope Paul, at which the contentious mixed marriages issue was dis cussed privately and at some length, Dr. Ramsey said he had made it clear to everyone to whom he had spoken that the Vatican instruction "would not satisfy the con sciences of Anglican Christians." He felt, however, after carefully studying the document, that it was not meant to be a"flnal settlement" The archbishop also pointed out that the instruction did. provide for cases where particular hardship would be inflicted upon partners wishing to contract a mixed marriage to be referred to Rome for sympathetic consideration.
As a direct outcome of the meeting between Dr. Ramsey and Pope Paul, the joint Anglican-Catholic theological commission was set up to study difficulties in the way of closer unity between the two communities. Tihe commission studied the mixed marriages problem and, with reaction to the latest Papal instruction to guide it, will no doubt continue to do so.
In September, 1967, the international Synod of Bishops recommended to the Pope a relaxation of the old strict rule where, in mixed marriage eases, goodwill could reasonably be expected •to count more than formal promises.
POPE PAUL has commended the work done for Englishspeaking prisoners in Rome's Queen of Heaven jail by Pallottine Fr. Thomas Hulhoveri, Rector of San Silvestro in Capite, the church for English Catholics in Rome. Fr. Hulhoven did a lot of prison work in England before be came to Rome and, during his four years at San Silvestro (Cardinal Heenan's titular church), has regularly visited Queen of Heaven prisoners and also helped young people "outside." Pope Paul, who visited the jail himself early in his pontificate, spoke to Fr. Hulhoven at an audience he granted him, his assistant at San Silvestro, Fr. Kevin Ward, SAC., and four Pallottine students who live there.
He asked Fr. Hulhoven about the prisoners, said he was very interested in what the priest had been doing, and added: "You must let me know if there is anything I can do." The Pope also spoke to Fr. Ward and the students, whom he urged to remain faithful to their culling, Fr. Hulhoven's work both at San Silvestro and the jail is coining to an end. His superiors have given him a parish in Abilene, Texas, U.S. He is to be replaced by Fr.' John Guiclera, now novice master in the Pallottine novitiate in Thurles, Ireland.
Much c)f Fr. Hulhoven's prison work has been in keeping relatives in touch with prisoners, whose appreciation. has often been most moving. A typical letter came recently from grateful parents in America. They had seen their sort and some companions off happily to Europe for a holiday, then lost touch with them. Next they knew was a letter from Fr. Hulhoven; their boy and his friends had been jailed on drug charges. "God should be good to you for your kindness and generosity in writing to us about our son's predie:ament," the parents wrote, "We appreciate your kindness to our boy and the other lads in prison. It must be a terribly frightening experience, particularly in a foreign country, and they must treasure every moment you spend with them . .
Later in the week, at an audience to Australians and New Zealanders, which Fr. Hulhoven helped to organise, Pope Paul surprised him completely by calling him forward and presenting him with' a beautifully fashioned silver cha lice