BISHOP ELLIS of Notting
ham refused this week to comment on reports that he had said he was prepared to dismiss half the priests in his diocese in order to stop opposition to the Pope's birth-control ruling.
Fr. Bernard Needham, the Bishop's secretary, said Bishop Ellis was not prepared to make any comment whatsoever. His refusal came after two more priests in the diocese had been suspended.
They are Fr. Joseph Calnan of Clowne, near Chesterfield, and Fr. Aquinas Furlong, a teacher at the Becket School, West Bridgford, Nottingham.
Fr. Calnan said: "I had a confrontation with the Bishop and the subject of contraception was discussed. Although I have never publicly opposed the Pope's encyclical, I made it quite clear that I could not accept that one must give the teaching of the encyclical in the confessional and in private advice."
48 HOURS' NOTICE
Last week Bishop Ellis gave Fr. James Kilkenny 48 hours to leave his presbytery. Fr. Kilkenny was the newlyappointed parish priest of St. Patrick's, Leicester. He had said he favoured open discussion on the encyclical.
Mr. Denis Rice, Warden of Vaughan College, Leicester, who organised a petition protesting against Fr. Kilkenny's treatment said on Tuesday that 300 Catholics in the city had already added their names and addresses to it.
With a friend he stood outside Fr. Kilkenny's former church on Sunday as parishioners left Mass. "All sorts of people signed," he said.
"Even old-age pensioners said to me: 'Thank you for doing something about this'."
Mr. Rice said that he had received many inquiries and offers of help, including one from a priest who said that he was prepared to give £100 to any priest in difficulty over the birth-control sanctions.
Bishop Ellis has vetoed a "teach-in" on the encyclical due to be held in Nottingham on November 22. He sent a letter to the organisers saying he could not approve the meeting being advertised by parish priests. But the organisers say that the "teach-in" will go ahead as planned with three speakers critical of the encyclical and three supporting it.
In the diocese of Arundel and Brighton Fr. Andrew Beer, one of the first priests to criticise the encyclical publicly, has been reinstated by Bishop
In a statement Bishop Cashman's secretary said: "Fr. Andrew Beer, formerly assistant at St. Dunstan's, Woking, has been appointed assistant to the Rev. Maurice Couve de Murville, chaplain at Sussex University.
"Fr. Beer will continue his priestly work without restriction in the light of the pastoral guidelines on Hurnanae Vitae which have been given oy our own bishops and other national hierarchies."
The Catholic Youth Service Council, a body set up by the hierarchy, has criticised the way in which Catholics reacted to the encyclical. An editorial in the Council's October Bulletin says that "whatever the view adopted towards the encyclical, the spectacle of subsequent adult confusion and even lack of charity was unedifying to the young."