CARDINAL HEENAN starts his Christmas message by saying that it is no use trying to be original in preparing it; "There is only one message to give at Christmas the message of peace."
He goes on : "We have to think of peace as something positive and all-embracing. Peace is not merely the cessation of hostilities on the field of battle. Peace is a state of genuine love and friendship between people and nations.
"Peace in the home means much more than avoiding conflict. It means the development of a genuinely family spirit by which every member of the family, parents as well as children, unselfishly seek the good of all.
"Family peace is probably the most precious of all. The Church is also a family and at Christmastide we pray for peace in the Church. In recent years we have spent so much energy in ecumenical
movements, that is, in fostering good relations with nonCatholics that we may have forgotten our primary duty of practising charity to those of the household of the Faith.
CATHOLIC ANIMOSITY "It is quite shocking to see the animosity with which Catholics speak and write of each other when they have differences of opinion. Some want no Latin. Others want nothing but Latin. Some treasure the old form of the Mass and want nothing new, while others seek only novelty and would gladly bury the liturgical and musical treasures of the past.
"If those with differences of opinion cannot yet bring themselves to love each other, let them this Christmas at least resolve to keep a civil tongue.
"Finally and most anguishing of all-is the peace for which we yearn for many lands. Bloodshed and terror are still the daily lot of the people in Vietnam and Biafra/Nigeria.
"There is little we can do about Vietnam because we have no stake in that civil war. The Nigerian conflict, on the other hand, is very much our concern. It is generally held on both sides that Britain alone holds the key to peace.
KEY TO PEACE "This in not to suggest that this key would easily unlock the door to peace. It is only to recognise the unique place this country holds in the minds of all in Nigeria to whatever tribe they belong.
"Catholics have done their best to urge the British Government to make greater efforts to bring about a ceasefire . Mr. Auberon Waugh has been ceaseless in his efforts. (One of the names given to his daughter recently baptised was Biafra.) "Mgr. Kent has also wielded a valiant pen and, like Mr. Waugh, has gone to Biafra to see for himself the conditions under which the unfortunate people are living.
"It must not be thought that the Church has taken sides against the Federal side in the Nigerian conflict. This would be very far from the truth. Last month I sang Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral for the Nigerians to show that from the Pope downwards the authorities of the Church are not partisan.
"I have lost no opportunity, however, of expressing my opinion of the attitude of the British Government. Both in our own Cathedral and at an ecumenical service in Westminster Abbey I have declared that the arms supplied by the British Government are prolonging the conflict and, incidentally, destroying the British reputation for cornpassion and justice.
"This Christmas we should redouble our prayers for peace in Nigeria. Remembering that Christ our Lord was born in Bethlehem, we should also pray for peace in Palestine."