FROM ALAN MeE LWAIN IN ROME
DECLARING that there was a "diffused lack of confidence" in his administration of the Church, Pope Paul has warned of the "grave dangers" facing the Church from Catholics who challenge her doctrine and the authority of both Pope and bishops.
Two of the main difficulties in the Church today, Pope Paul added, were "a lessened sense of doctrinal orthodoxy" and "a certain widespread lack of trust towards the exercise of our hierarchical ministry".
He was addressing cardinals who had called on him to offer their good wishes at the start of the seventh year of his pontificate. He succeeded the late Pope John on June 21, 1963.
It was not easy to have a place of responsibility in the Church, whether one was Pope or governing a diocese, said Pope Paul. It seemed to him that some of today's difficulties not only hid great dangers for God's Church but constituted a heavy responsibility for those who caused them.
It was impossible for him to be insensitive to criticisms directed towards the Holy See in the guise of criticisms only of the Roman Curia, Pope Paul added, Not all these criticisms were correct, right, opportune or respectful. It has been assumed by some in Rome that in these remarks the Pope had in mind such criticisms of both the doctrine of Papal authority and the composition and actions of the
Curia as those made recently by the notably progressive primate of Belgium, Cardinal Suenens.
Pope Paul said he would certainly meditate upon criticisms addressed to the Holy See, adding that he would also be disposed to accept "the good aspirations of a legitimate pluralism in unity."
He also undertook to study various demands in the Church for a renewal of priestly life. His lack of elaboration on this theme has led to some speculation that he might be prepared to have another look at his ruling that there could be no relaxing of the law of priestly celibacy.