THERE is much satisfaction in Rome over Pope Paul's announcement that Cardinal-designate Jan Willebrands, 59-year-old Dutch Secretary of the Vatican Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, is to suc ceed the late Cardinal Augustin Bea as its President. The new president's own staff is particularly jubilant. The Dutch bishop seemed the obvious choice from the start, but there had been a good deal
of speculation here about other possible successors to the
distinguished German cardinal whom Pope John unhesitatingly nominated to establish the secretariat, key Catholic unit in the ecumenical movement. Cardinal Bea in turn immediately chose as his top assistant Mgr Willebrands, a noted theologian, who for several years had already been his chief collaborator on ecumenical problems. Since the secretariat got under way, no one has become more experienced in ecumenical ways, or more respected by the "separated brethren", whom he has visited in Moscow, the Middle East and elsewhere, than Bishop Willebra rids. The place he holds among the unity-minded outside the Church was reflected by the World Council of Churches which, when it was announced that Bishop Willebrands was among the 35 new cardinals Pope Paul had nominated, sent him some of the warmest congratulations of the host that he received. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the Council's general secretary, expressed on its behalf "joy not only for you but also for the Roman Catholic Church and for the ecumenical movement". He added : "I hope that you will be able in your new and high position to continue to be involved in the ecumenical relationships of all the Churches, towards the enhancement of which you have already given such distinguished service." Dr. W. A. Visser 't Hooft, the Council's honorary president. who has known Biship Willebrands for many years, also sent him a personal letter saying that he welcomed the bishop's designation as a cardinal as confirmation of the excellent pioneering ecumenical work he had done in collaboration with the late Cardinal Bea in the Unity Secretariat. Cardinal designate Willebrands is co-chairman with Dr. Carson Blake of the joint working group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.
Pope's tribute to Irish Nuncio
DOPE, Paul left the Vatican -Ilast week for the Blue Nuns' (Calvary) Hospital in Rome to visit his "dear friend and brother in the Episcopate", Archbishop Joseph MeGeough's Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, who had suffered a heart attack after leading a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The Pope said he had long appreciated Archbishop McGeough's devotion to the Church and self-sacrifice in the Holy See's service. "His readiness to face difficulties and hardship to assist in the universal mission of charity, which is the divinely-given duty of this See of Rome, is for us a model and an inspiration", the Pope added. After seeing the Archbishop in his room, Pope Paul went to the hospital chapel. By a happy coincidence, the Little Company of Mary was holding a general chapter, so that nuns from various parts of the world were able to meet him. He was glad of this opportunity, Pope Paul said, to greet sisters from far-flung fields where they were devoting themselves to self-forgetting works. "May the Holy Spirit lend you His wise aid in the task you are undertaking in response to the call of the Successors of the Apostles assembled in the recent Vatican Council", he said. "You have the duty of renewing appropriately the rules that govern your life of prayer and service, your bringing of yourselves and others to sanctity. Consider what your great Foundress (Mother Mary Potter) would wish the Little Company of Mary, now spread throughout the world, to do in today's circumstances. "Traditions that have proved their value by withstanding the test of time must be retained. Remember that it is an interior renewal, not merely external changes, that must be sought." Pope Paul gave his special paternal Apostolic blessing to all members of the Little Cornpany of Mary.
Old charge again refuted
THE Vatican's weekly magazine L'Osserratore delta Domenico has refuted the dall charge that if you're rich you have a much better chance of getting the Sacred Roman Rota to declare your marriage void than you have if you're poor. The magazine publishes figures to show that in 1962 and 1966, the Rota annulled a higher percentage of poor than of rich people's marriages, poor people being defined, as those unable to pay the expenses of the action and whose fees were met either fully or partially by the Holy See.
It's a hardy annual, this one.
Even hardier hardy annual
11-4rIE best way I know of 2starting fresh rumours that Pope Paul's health is causing alarm is to publish reports that it is not. A news agency did this recently. The Pope, it said, was in good health for a man of 71 subjected to the massive job that he undertakes. He had lost some weight, was depressed over dissensions within the Church and • always tired. Otherwise, he was fine. Once this report was released, there was hardly a foreign correspondent in Rome who wasn't bombarded with queries about what was really wrong with the Pope.
It's an even hardier annual, this one.
Leonardo needs another wash
IEONAR DO Da Vinci's I 11 masterpiece, "The Last Supper", which hangs on the refectory wall in a Dominican convent in Milan, is so dirty that the Master would hardly recognise his own work. Su we are told by 82-year-old Professor Mauro Pelliccioli, who, from 1946 to 1954. restored the fresco's original vivid colours. Now, after 15 years, his restoration has disappeared, he says. The painting is covered with a greyish, smoky film. To restore the painting again would take only Cl few days, the aged art restorer says. but he is too old now to do it himself and he fears no one else will undertake the job. "It must be done before it is too late", he says in an interview in the popular Italian weekly magazine Oggi (Today). All that is needed, after his major operation on the painting 15 years ago, "is a sponge and water."
Schools link-up in Melaneia
TWELVE theological schools 2in the Solomon Islands and the Territory of PapuaNew Guinea are to form an
int er d enominational organisation, the Melanesian Association of Theological Schools (MATS.). the Divine Word Missionary Fathers' headquarters in Rome announces. The inaugural meeting is being held at the Holy Spirit Regional Seminary at Bomana, Port Morsby, capital of New Guinea, this week, with the Rector, Australian-born Dr. Patrick Murphy, S.V.D., as host. The seminary serves religious orders and the 17 dioceses of Papua, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The assciciation aims to improve the standards of theological education in member institutions, facilititate the exchange of ideas and theological information, and act as liaison with other associations of theological schools, other agencies engaged iri theological education and educational bodies like the University of Papua-New Guinea. Mr. John Guise, Papuanborn Speaker of the PapuaNew Guinea House of Assembly, read the meeting's opening paper, "The Role of the Christian Church in National Development." Topics to be discussed also include the formation of a study institute for theological teachers, a Union theological college, staff exchanges and student liaison, theological exchange, relationships with other associations, students' vacation activities and ways of attracting theological students. This is a real ecumenical effort. The decision to form M.A.T.S. resulted from a Theological Consultation held at Lae. New Guinea, in April, 1968, by Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and United Church theologians representing theological schools. • The meeting was also attended by observers from the Evangelical Alliance and the Salvation Army.