By CHARLES McGAHON A CALL on the English Hierarchy to take heed of the growing body of educated lay opinion in the country was made by several speakers at the World Book Fair in Olympia last Friday. They were taking part in a panel on the Vatican Council organised by the Catholic publishers at the Fair.
Abbot Butler of Downside said there was an increasing volume of criticism in the Catholic body in Britain. "These people have an intellectual stake in Catholicism," he declared.
He added that British Catholics are devoted to a traditionalism lacking in selfcriticism. "The Church is in need of being brought up to date".
Author Hugo Meynell told the audience that "a moderate and affectionate anti-clericalism is the duty of the laity. Extensive adulation of the clergy is hound to lead to extremes," he declared.
Fr. Thomas Corbishley, S.J., said; "The trouble is that the Church lives in itself. It forgets that it exists for the good of mankind".
Replying to another question, Abbot Butler said that it is vital that the press should be free in its reporting and its criticism of the Council.
It must even be free to criticise the Pope, he added. "The Pope, although above the Council, is Bishop of Rome and therefore the senior member of the Council. It is very difficult to criticise the Council and avoid criticising the Pope," he said. "There is no more critical city than Rome itself."
Publisher Neil Middleton pleaded for much fuller reporting of the Council. "The press," he said, "should not be dependent on handouts but allowed into the sessions."
Was the Council over? Not according to Abbot Butler. "There are many very important documents yet to come," he said.
Referring to the schema on the Church in the modern world, he declared: "It will not change the exterior visage of the Church overnight. but it spells revolution and profound change in the direction in which the Church is going intellectually".
ECUMENISM: The schema would be heavily criticised, Abbot Butler said. "I hope it w ill he criticised for not going far enough."
THE JEWS: "The document on the Jews will, I hope, serve as the winding-up of a long and bitter tragedy between the Church and the Jews. who, after all, were the race who gave us Our Lord".
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: "I think the Council w ill pass this document. It is tremendously important for the Church's relations with the non-Catholic world. We must live today in a pluralistic society, cheek by jowl with people who do not share our views."