By a Staff Reporter INTERPRETATION of the Bishops' warning to priests who dissent from the birth control encyclical has varied widely from diocese to diocese.
In Southwark Archbishop Cowderoy has taken a strong line over the terms set out in the statement, but Archbishop Beck of Liverpool is taking a liberal line and has issued what one priest described as a "very mild" ad clerum (letter to clergy).
Bishop Grant of Northampton is approaching those priests who have been unable to accept the encyclical with "colossal compassion" according to one priest. In Brentwood Bishop Wall has been "very kind" and is not asking for immediate acceptance.
REFUSED TO ACCEPT On Thursday Archbishop Cowderoy interviewed those priests in the Southwark diocese who had publicly dissented from the encyclical. According to the priests the Archbishop read them the conditions they were required to fulfil, These are that priests are required in preaching, teaching, in the Press, on radio, television or public platforms, to refrain from opposing the teaching of the Pope in all matters of faith and morals.
Cardinal Heenan will be interviewed by David Frost tonight on the "Frost on Friday" programme. The interview, which was recorded during the afternoon, will go out over the ITV network at 9.15 p.m.
Fr. Kenneth Allan, parish priest of Coulsdon, refused to accept his dismissal from Archbishop Cowderoy, arguing that the Archbishop could not dismiss him without stating his crime. This is the first time in the present controversy that a priest has taken this line and Canon Lawyers said this week that Fr. Allan had a strong case.
But another priest at Coulsdon has decided to leave the priesthood because he is unable to accept the Pope's encyclical. He is Fr. Michael Ivers who has applied for laicisation.
The future of Fr. Paul Weir, another Southwark priest, is
still uncertain. On Thursday last week Archbishop Cowderoy offered him £10 a week and told him to look for another job, but it is understood that Fr. Weir may remain a priest.
A decision by Dr. Cowderoy to give new posts to two priests who had been disciplined for their public dissent has led to speculation about the possible reinstatement of Fr. Weir.
Since he was suspended from his parish at North Cheam, Surrey, for expressing his dissent, Fr. Weir has been staying with Fr. Allan, Fr. Weir's parishioners at North Cheam have consistently protested about his suspension, and organised petitions for his reinstatement. At the time of writing it seemed likely that Fr. Weir will be given a new appointment at Coulsdon.
Mgr. Hubert Gibney, VicarGeneral of Southwark, when asked on Tuesday if the new appointments for the other two priests would mean that the suspension of Fr. Weir would