THE REFERENCE to Humanae Vitae (Letters, 21 November) makes me wonder, as I have wondered before, how Catholics can read Humanae Vitae and not come to the conclusion that it is infallible doctrine, because in it Paul VI is addressing the whole Church, as Vicar of Christ, on a matter of morals, with the intention of defining a doctrine, that is, bringing to an end a disputed question.
These four conditions, enunciated by the General Council of 1870, Vatican I, if present in a pope's teaching, are a guarantee that the teaching, once promulgated, has been preserved from error by the Holy Spirit.
Fr K Casey, Cardiff
JUST FOR THE RECORD (John Hindmarsh, Letters, 21 November). The following is the full text of Cardinal Heenan's unambiguous television answer to David Frost on 6 December, 1968.
Frost asked what a priest should say to a Catholic unable to give assent in conscience to the Pope's ruling on contraception as set out in Humanae Vitae.
The Cardinal replied: "'God bless you.' If they're really following their conscience in the sight of God, which is all that matters the priest, the bishop, the Pope doesn't matter compared with God." Gerard Noel Chipping Camden, Glos.
IT SEEMS TO ME that Vatican I, in treating of papal infallibility, left some element of unfinished business. In proclaiming the doctrine that the pope (as well as ecumenical councils) can speak infallibly by virtue of his office as Vicar of Christ it apparently failed to promulgate a verbal formula, whether as introduction or as conclusion, whereby such decrees would be unfailingly recognised by the whole Church as indeed infallible status.
Discussion thereafter upon the proclaimed teaching would be limited to an elaboration of its meaning and implications, but its basic acceptance would be forever uncontroverted. Without such a universally recognised formula the doctrine of papal infallibility will remain ineffective.
A C Michael, London