AMUCH respected priest has stopped the sale of the Cantot.ir HERALD in his parish because of our treatment of Vatican Council issues, and especially the birth control debate. We do not seek to make heavy weather of this, when many priests have applauded the course we took. But a point of principle calls for comment.
The criticism surprises us. Only a few weeks ago some Catholics were lambasting us for stressing the merits of the English bishops' statement on contraception. We published articles by Fr. O'Leary and Dr. Dominian, of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, and one by Fr Haering, perhaps the greatest moral theologian in the Church today, and an accredited expert to the Vatican Council.
Out own comments called on the faithful to be loyal to the Church's teaching, while leaving the door wide open to the doctrinal development now to be expected in view of the latest advances in science and theology. At the same time, we knew that the modern mind of the Church calls on the laity to play their part in doctrinal development, and that the Council is seeking their views.
We also knew that, among the faithful, there was much distress and bewilderment;
that many questionings and cris de &vie, bottled up for so long, required an outlet— partly to relieve the people's distress, partly to help the Church to understand the problem at greater depth.
Better by far that the outlet should be found within the family, in the columns of a Catholic paper, than exclusively in the secular press, where space alone too often precludes perspective. Hence we opened our correspondence columns — and priests, as well as laity, took advantage of them.
As Fr. Karl Rahner, Si. has pointed out, the bishop cannot guide his flock as he would wish to unless he knows the thoughts and feelings of the people. In his assessment of fresh ideas, he is greatly helped if they can be tested against the sounding board of public reaction. Only thus can he know what is truly representative and what is merely eccentric.
The CATHOLIC HERALD, pledged to protect authority and doctrinal integrity, is also pledged to the development of a powerful clerical-lay partnership. We pray that we shall be judged more lightly in heaven than in [Alston.