QUITE A NICE change at the English hierarchy's weekly Press conference the other evening. Members of the laity were on the other side of the table for once. doing the talking instead of the listening.
The lay apostolate having been a hot subject in the Ecumenical Council in the previous days, Mgr. Derek Worlock, who chairs these conferences, aptly arranged for Mr. Pat Keegan, President of the World Association of Christian Workers, Mr. Martin Work. Executive Director of the National Council of Catholic Men in the United States, and the Baroness Yvonne Bosch van Drakesteyn, head of the Grail in Britain, to take the floor.
Mr. Keegan, who is also the first English lay auditor to the Council, struck out for free dialogue at all levels of the Church between all elements of the Church. He setti he hoped that after the Council had discussed the lay apostolate it would not be looked upon any more as "just a hobby...
Mr. Work. a forceful American. asked. first, what laymen themselves wanted from the Council. Some, he said. didn't want anything — they just wanted to be left alone. He thought, however, that intelligent laymen did want something, including the speaking by the Church in a modern language comprehensible to all.
Baroness Bosch van Drakesteyn was pleased that women were to play an equal part with men in the dialogue between the bishops. the clergy and the laity. She stressed that women would like the Council to make a statement on the whole concept of marriage to combat confusing statements already made.
No pressure (INE ASPECI on which Messrs. Keegan and Work were not. agreed was the future relationship between bishops and clergy on the one hand and the lay aposto
late on the other. S Mr. Keegan said that he had never, in all his lay activities. been subjected to any pressure from above. Mr. Work. however. knew instances of this sort of thing. He thought that this most difficult question of the relationship between lay groups and bishops" would be one of the biggest problems the Council would have to tackle, This same angle was also discussed with refreshing straightforwardness at a session of the American Press Panel, One expert said that it would be quite a problem for the clergy to adjust themselves to laymen being allowed to not only form their own opinions but what's more to express their opinions on religious as well as temporal matters.
Mgr. George Higgins, who is prominently
in American social and labour affeirs, said it was true laymen were not consulted on the document dealing with the lay apostolate until the last version had been written and then it was almost too late. He was also not sure that the right laymen had been consulted. He hinted with a laugh, that he hoped he personally wasn't as "clerical" as some of the laymen had proved to be.
Mgr. Higgins said he thought he was correct in recalling that two or three years ago. Archbishop Heenan. discussing the problem of Communists in labour union, had said he hoped that if (Ottholies had to choose between attending union meetings or parish meetings. they would choose the union.
Over-organising danger f N THE KEEGAN-WORK dialogue. there I was quite a bit said about what sonic people regard as the danger of the laity being over-Organised. 1 was interested in this because earlier, Council experts, including a bishop, to whom I spoke expressed reservations about a proposed creation within the Vatican of a permanent centre for the lay apostolate. They said that the danger here was that the central body would become "Vailcanised", like some members of the present Curia, who could not sec beyond their own confines. Besides, they added. the present tendency was against centralisation of the Church's government, not to add to it by setting up even more "governing" bodies. Far better, my experts said. for leading lay apostolate members to go abroad from their own countries. not merely to brief internatinnal conferences, but to live sufficiently long among other people, see how their lay work was conducted, then return home equipped with new ideas and plans.
DURING a learned discussion at the
American Press panel the other day, a woman dug into her bug, produced a large bundle of wool and proceeded to knit what appeared to be a garment destined to rival gorgeotts technicolor.
Maybe she was raking her 110iCS in code.
Admiral's surprise IT WAS ll's/DEED a memorable British occasion at the British Embassy one night last week. The Ambassador, Sir John Ward, and Lady Ward, gave a reception for visiting Admiral Sir John Hamilton, C.-in-C., Allied Forces. Mediterranean, and Lady Hamilton. The admiral had sailed from his Malta base to Naples in H.M.S. Surprise, and an extraordinarily fine surprise he brought with
him Ihteo Royal Marines. band and all. came
nattily along and on the trim Embassy lawns. while rollicking tunes like "Rule Britannia" echoed among adjacent Roman ruins, they marched and counter-marched to perform the traditional ceremony of Beating Retreat. Then a beautiful finale. As the band softly played the old hymn, "Abide With Me". bugles suddenly broke in upon it to sound, like a descant. —1 he Last Post".
This, in this corner of a foreign field. was as moving for the British present as it was thrilling for Italian neighbours who, as the first strains of the hand sounded, thronged terraces and balconies of buildings overlooking the Embassy grounds. Sir John and Lady Hamilton had a private audience with Pope Paul before they left Rome.
" Nuns out of uniform
THOSE AMIABLE DUTCH "nuns
Out of uniform". the Ladies of Bethany, of the Foyer Unitas, gave a reception for the observers at the Ecumenical Council. They have given one during each session and both Catholics and non-Catholics always appreciate the opportunity of getting together socially. especially in the magnificent surroundings of the Palazzo Doria, in historic Piazza Navona, where the Foyer Unitas headquarters are
Guests at this latest reception arrived as e most violent storm, with vivid lightning, crashing thunder and torrential Jain, lashed Rome.
Greek Orthodox prelates, in their picturesque robes. mingled with African bishops and representatives of the World Council of Churches. Fr, John F. Long, S.J.. and Fr. Peter Duprey, of the White Fathers, both from the currently overworked Secretariat for Christian Unity. were there. As ever, controversial theologian Dr. Hans Kung created quite a stir when he dashed in out of the rain.
Guests were welcomed by the distinguished Jesuit. Fr. ('. Boyer. of the Gregorian University, who is president uf Foyer Unitas , and Prof. L. van Holk replied.
Banished to gallery GET1 INK; BACK to the bishopsdaity question, I hope that something that happened at a conference for bishops and others given by youthful, quickwitted Bishop Mark McGrath, C.S.C., of Panama, cannot be taken as a sign of things to come.
In the two-floor conference hall. the bishops were tenderly shepherded into thc 'stalls", adjacent to the speaker's rostrum. The rest of us were cursorily waved upstairs by an oft-hand Italian attendant, who seemed convinced that segregation and the ecumenical spirit were quite compatible. There was a good deal of ironic comment from enforced "galleryites" who, throughout the week. had been writing inspiring pieces about the new status of the laity.
Pius XII anniversary SCORES OF COUNCIL FATHERS were among pilgrims who went into the crypt of St. Peter's to pray at the Lomb of the late Pope Pius XII last Friday, the sixth anniversary of his death. The chapel near St. Peter's tomb, where his body rests, was a mass of flowers.
Most of those who paid homage to Pope Pius paused also to say a prayer before the nearby white tomb of his successor, the late Pope John. We can be sure that the Council Fathers who knelt there were deeply eonscious that, although his remains were here below, his spirit forever hovered over the proceedings of his Council, in the great chamber above.
TDIRECTOR of the Vatican Obi servatory, Fr. Daniel O'Connell. ST. has been appointed by Pope Paul one of nine new members of the Papal Academy of Sciences. Fr. O'Connell, one of the world's most noted astronomers, has been associated with the Academy since 1952 and a Council member since MO. As a full member, he holds the appointment for life.