RELIGIOUS leaders of many denominations around the world have hailed the Vatican Council's preliminary approval of the Declaration on Religious Liberty.
Dr. W. A. Visser 't Hooft, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said in Geneva that he hoped the key affirmations of the Declaration would not be weakened when a revised draft was presented for final approval.
• He noted the stronk, attacks made on the Declaration and said the statements had to be reworked in light of the reactions of Council Fathers, which had to take their interventions into account.
In New York there was greater acclaim. Dr. Eugene Blake, chief executive officer of the United Presbyterian Church, called the Declaration "a milestone in Chris
tian history". .
"It will definitely improve relations and the relationship of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches throughout the world with the Catholic Church," he added. "This is very important to us because in so many countries we are a minority Church."
Bishop Taylor of Princeton, New Jersey, president of the Methodist Council of Bishops, said the Council's Declaration vote would open a new door to Christian communication and understanding and also guarantee support to one of the most cardinal principles of democracy.
Down the road
Charles Parlin, Methodist layman and co-president of the World Council of Churches, said he was extremely happy about the endorsement of the draft. "It goes a long way down the road to better understanding between Churches represented by the World Council and the Catholic Church."
Rabbi Seymour J. Cohen, presi
dent of the Synagogue Council or America, welcomed the long awaited word from Rome that the document had won approval by an overwhelming margin.
"We look forward to the day when the right to religious liberty will be granted to all men in every part of the world," he added.
The Declaration was also welcomed by the president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Dr. Sterling Brown, of New York, called the document the formal charter of the revolution in inter-religious relations begun by the late beloved Pope John.
The president of the American Lutheran Church and of the Lutheran World Federation said the news would bring joy to Christians everywhere.
Speaking the truth
Dr. Oliver R. Harms, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, said the Council's vote was not only a step toward religious liberty, it was also a step toward breaking down barriers which had prevented Christians from speaking the truth in love.
The American Baptist observer at the Council reported from Rome that its historic vole was something to be remembered for a lifetime. "I am glad to have lived to see this historic event," said Dr. Stanley
Episcopal Bishop Cadigan of Missouri. president of the metrooolui tias.n deCsheruirbeehd Ftheed evroattei clan s of tSot-: gether magnificent". He thought it could only lead to a great strengthening of relations between the Catholic and non-Catholic world.
He praised Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis for his "devout and devoted leadership" in pressing for tthe religious liberty vote.
Archbishop lakovas, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, said the vote on the declaration was most gratifying and an indication that the Catholic Church "is dealing forthrightly and courageously with an issue of the greatest importance to every human being".