BY A STAFF REPORTER
CATHOLICS were today finding that the very basis of their belief was under question and not just peripheral things like birth control and celibacy, said Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, during a hectic four-day visit to Britain last week.
Speaking on "The Future Evolution of the Church" at a meeting in London on Thursday sponsored by the London School of Economics Catholic Society, he agreed that the Church was going through its greatest crisis since the Reformation.
On Thursday afternoon Cardinal Suenens had lectured at the Royal, Institute for International Affairs on "The Dialogue between the Church and the World." The previous day he had lectured at Worth Abbey, Sussex.
On Friday he lunched with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ramsey. at Lambeth Palace before going to Canterbury to lecture at the University of Kent. On Saturday he visited Cardinal Heenan at Archbishop's House, Westminster.
The nature of the present crisis in the Church was largely psychological, he said in his London School of Economics lecture. The Church reflected the upheaval which was going on in society. This was exacerbated by the generation gap. Sonic people thought the Holy Spirit spoke to the Church of yesterday but not of today. The Holy Spirit spoke to the Church every day. It was up to us to listen. When the non-Christian world rejected us it was because we were not Christian enough. "Today the world wants to see Jesus Christ in professional, family, social and industrial life, and in every field of human life."
Cardinal Suenens suggested that the rich nations were in a state of collective mortal sin by failing to deal effectively with world poverty.
THE WISE MEN The Cardinal quoted from an address he made to the recent Concilitim congress in Brussels likening the quest for Christian unity to that of Three Wise Men seeking the Star of Bethlehem.
Legend had given us their names, but their modern counterparts were Pope Paul, Archbishop Ramsey and Patriarch Athenagoras. Christian unity was important not on account of numbers but because even a million really united Christians could serve the world so effectively. In his lecture on -The Church" at Worth Abbey, Cardinal Suenens predicted a major breakthrough in progress towards Christian unity by the end of the century.
He could detect a convergence in the development of the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The former was seeking diversity white the latter was moving towards greater uniformity.
CELIBACY DISCIPLINE At a Press conference at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, on Thursday he said he hoped priests
would remain celibate because of the possibilities for pastoral service and discipline. He would favour a married man becoming a priest, but not a priest marrying. Perhaps the next Synod would discuss the problem. He saw no special significance in the nationality of the Pope. He thought that there should he a place in Rome for free discussion, but if to obtain change rules were broken, he would say that that was not the normal way of doing things.
Peter Hebblethwaite's special article P.3. Norman St. JohnStevas P.4.