SHORTLY after the success of his mission to Moscow to bring Russian Orthodox observers to the Council, Mgr. John Willebrancls, secretary of the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity. told a press conference Jest week that the Greek Orthodox bishops may now reconsider their refusal to he represented.
The Holy See would. in any case, he said, go on trying to strengthen its contacts with Constantinople. If the Greeks decided to gend an observer, the Orthodox Churches of Bulgaria, Rumania and Yugoslavia might follow suit.
Mgr. Williebrands, like his superior, Cardinal Bea, has been a most energetic traveller in creating ecumenical contacts, particularly over the past year. He visited Patriarch Athenagoras at Constantinople, the World Council of Churches headquarters at Geneva, and. in various parts of the Middle East, the heads of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and Syrian Churches.
His first contact with the Russian Orthodox Church Was made in a meeting with the Metropolitan Patriarch Nicodemus, during the August meeting in Paris of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. It was then that the Metropolitan invited him to visit Moscow.
Finally. it is only two years ago since Mgr. Willebrands visited St. Andrews, as an observer at the World Council of Churches' committee meetings there.
THE Mission de France -the group of 360 priests dedicated to !esteeming the nation's deChristianised workers-has celebrated its 20th birthday with a proposal to bring the laity into direct association with its apostolate learns of the Mission work in parishes, rural and urban, specially entrusted to them by the bishops of 35 dioceses; in the apostolatc of the sea; in student circles and scientific research; in hotels. boarding houses, hostels and hospitals. Some even work in North Africa. There are 61 seminarians working at the Mission headquarters at Pontigny.
The proprieal now is to extend the system whereby a number of experimental lay groups. related to the Mission teams like a parish council to a parish priest, work out their missionary and research programmes in a close working pa rt nership.
The groups are made up of lay actionists representing different sector of life. They help the Mission priests to diagnose the specifically local problems of the Area in question, and to plan solutions. The trend is to build up a kind of lay team shouldering a co-responsibility with the priests for envangelising the neighbourhood.
The bishops' approval of the idea on the eve of the Council is regarded as highly significant.
Cireat emphasis is placed on close association between priests and non-Christians, and, in the roost non-Christianised areas of the countryside, priests live and work as peasants, and begin to get the people round them by organising joint social action in the locality. and using evee lapsed Catholics and unbelievers in specifically Catholic Action groups.
ARDINAL FELTIN has abolished, for the Paris archdiocese. the system of "classes" for marriage and funeral ceremonies. What it came to was that you could have a better "show" put on for you by the parish priest, if you peed him on the higher scale!
The Cardinal points out that the people will accept his decision with all the more joy when they understand the supernatural and pastoral motives behind it. They should be invited, he said, "to forget the useless displays they have been going in for, and replace -them with evangelic simplicity".
Urging his priests to destroy, once and for all, the image of the priesi as a man of money, Cardinal Feltin announced the creation of new deaneries in six archdioceses to facilitate co-operation and co-ordination between priests and lay action bodies in a wider sphere than the merely parochial. The new deals, he said, should regard their appointments. not as titles. but as the setting up of a service.
ARCHBISHOP DUVAL of Algiers has had a meeting with Mr. Ben Bella, President of the Council in the Algerian government. in which they discussed affairs of Church and State. Their conversation was to have been "itnpregnated with minim! understanding",
The Archbishop, who has for several months been transferring his offices to the centre of the city, told Mr. Ben Bella that he has decided to give hack to the Algerian State the building he has been using as an episcopal residence, and which used to he the Palace of the Deys of Algiers.
The Archbishop moved his offices from this building because it was situated in the Lower Casbah, an area now deserted by the European population.
His visit to Mr. Ben Bella brought a return visit to the Archbishop by Mr. Teiefik El Madani, a member or the Cabinet.
'THE bishops of Chile and I. Guatemala have opened heavy fire on social injustice in the two countries.
In Chile they have opened "a crusade of regeneration and Christianisation" for the whole country.
It is all very well, they say, condemning Marxism, hut what else can you expect when there are 400,000 dwellings too few in the country; when nearly a third of the nation lacks a home decent enough for Christian family living: when tens of thousands are unemployed. a tenth of the population enjoys half the national revenue, and one child in three leaves school after the first "ear. • Calling for social and land reform programmes. the bishops warn that there must be no question of merely anti-Communist manoeuvres, but a sincere determination to raise the whole standard of living of the impoveriehed peoples. The working people. they point out, are bitterly resentful of double-talk, and of a pharisaical discrepancy between what Catholics preach and what they do.
In Guatemala, the bishops have urged Catholics of all classes to put the principles of Mater et Magistra into effect. A joint pastoral declares that they could not ignore "the cry of sorrow that reaches our hearts from the cold and wretched huts and hovels in which thousands of our countrymen are living."
Repressive government action is giving the Communists a basis for a popular revolution, says the Christion"Democratic Party. Communist agents are busy at work among the poor anti the intelligentsia, and pro-Communist guerillas are being trained in the mountains.
Pointing out that barely two per cent of the people own 65 per cent of the nation's cultivated lands, or a fifth of the whole national territory. the bishops demand a more equitable distribution Of property. The present malciistribution, they assert, hinders the country's natural potential for a flourishing agriculture. This is an injustice crying • to heaven for God's vengeance, the pastoral declares.
ARCHB1SHOP KIWANUKA of Rutaga and the Anglican Archbishop, Dr. Brown, both led prayers in the national ceremonies for Uganda's independence day. Premier Obote, a non-Catholic, called on the nation to praise and thank the missionaries for the light they have brought to the country and still maintain there. Catholics and Protestants then recited the "Our Father" together.
Pope John was represented by Archbishop Mojoli, Papal Internuncio in Addis Ababa.
Mr. Obote told a press conference that nobody would be driven out of Uganda. "Missionaries and people in education or in the East African Common Services there is no single group of people we need more." he said. "We need them desperately, and it would disturb me even if one were to decide to leave."
The Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter stressing the rights of the family in education, and defending the concept of a Catholic school system aided by the state. But they also stress the duty and intention of the Catholic community to take a full share of responsibility in serving the nation as a whole.
TN lapen. 1,500 Japanese priests
and missionary priests are spreading the faith under a completely Japanese hierarchy of 14 bishops.
The Pontifical Mission for Palestine has given £25,000 to establish the first centre for the blind in the Gaza Strip Of the United Arab Republic. The government has provided the site. There are 1,500 blind people in the area.
he Holy Ghost Fathers have presented a memorial scroll to the eon-Catholic British officer, Major Richard Lawson, of the Royal Tank Corps, in gratitude for his heroic efforts to save their missionaries in the Congo after the Kurigolu massacre. The 76 delegates to the congregation's recent Chapter offered to Major Lawson, now with the UN command in Nigeria, "the expression of profound gratitude and assurance of continued prayer" on behalf of all its members.
The Spanish Social Week, led by the Spanish hierarchy, has demanded improved • educational facilities to raise the level of Spanish agriculture; the establishment of cooperatives; extension of credit to farmers; just wages for farm workers and protection for farm workers against seasonal unemployment.
A sum of £25,000 raised last year by Catholic German carol singers, has been sent to help build a new health centre in Hong Kong, In an address to non-Catholic observers at the Vatican Council, Pastor Lrmanno Rostan, Waldensian Chairman of the Federal Council of Evangelical Churches in hely. spoke appreciately of improved relations between Catholics and Protestants. but said that visits like that of Lord Fisher (then Archbishop of Canterbury) to Pope John had not been approved by some Italian Protestants, because they suggested "homage to a primacy which we cannot recognise". There are about 100,000 Protestants in Italy.
Cardinal Koenig. Archbishop of Vienna, recently welcomed delegates at the Vienna Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency to Mass in his cathedral. He told them: "1 beseech you in the name of the families and children, of all the mothers and fathers of the East as well as of the West, help us destroy mutual distrust. The mulled contacts among the honourable members of the Conference are certainly a first step . Unite science with religion, because religion teaches us that we are all children of God and that we must love each other."