Pressure group demands action from the bishops
by Jonathan Petre THE POPE should be invited to speak out strongly on contraception, abortion and divorce when he visits Britain at the end of May.
That was one of the recommendations adopted at a public meeting in London on Saturday, when more than 900 gathered at the invitation of a pressure group called 'Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice' made up of Catholics concerned to uphold traditional Church teachings.
Fears that extreme Tridentinists, who had complained before the meeting that they were being artificially excluded from the proceedings, might try to break it up were not fulfilled. The packed audience in the Porchester Hall, Bayswater listened to speeches on liturgy, morality, catechetics and ecumenism.
Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, the former Attorney General, said that the fact that a meeting of this kind was taking place at all was "very sad". The blame lay with those Catholics "who have been brushing aside so many loyal members of the Church for so long. But our voices will be heard," he said.
Lord Rawlinson is one of the 'gang of Four', two peers and two MPs, Labour and Conservative, who offered to fund a ballot on whether Catholics wanted the old rite of Mass. Cardinal Hume declined the offer. Another member of the 'gang', Sir John Biggs-Davison, chaired the meeting on Saturday. On the Church's teaching of ethics, Miss Corinna Marnau said: "The bishops no longer teach the faith. If the hierarchy won't look at it (the truth), then the laity will, and that is why/we are here today."
Mrs Phyllis Bowman, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, speaking from the floor, said: "I have been told by many people — some high up in the Church — that when the Pope visits this country they don't want him to speak about divorce, contraception and abortion."
Some of the resolutions, designed to be forwarded to the Pope before his arrival, proposed by speakers on the platform had to be redrafted under pressure, often vociferous, from the floor.
No bishops attended the meeting. One steward claimed that Cardinal Hume had sent an 'unofficial' representative.
In a speech on ecumenism, the Hon Christopher Monckton addressed the bishops directly: "It has been said publically in the newspapers and privately among some of you that we are traditionalists. Not so, my Lords. There is only one Church and we will not make factions ..."
"Why then, my Lords, have two of your number put their sig natures to the agreed statements of the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission on the subjects of ministry and the Holy Eucharist?"
"My Lords, your first duty, as the Second Vatican Council says, is to teach the truth ... In Heaven's name, get on with it."
Among the resolutions to be sent to the bishops and the Pope were those calling for: CI A new translation of the English version of the Mass CI A revision of the rite of ordination to bring out the sacrificial nature of the priesthood. 0 Immediate abolition of Communion in the hand.
CI A clear dissociation of the hierarchy from "false Eucharistic doctrines now on print" CI A lifting of restrictions on the Tridentine Mass.