From Peter Jennings in Rome.
CARDINAL Hume and Archbishop Derek WorIock this week challenged the Synod of bishops in Rome to re-examine the Church's teaching on artificial contraception and the admission of divorced and remarried Catholic to the Eucharist.
In an important and carefully worded intervention in the third session of the Synod on Monday. the cardinal stressed the "special authority" that married couples had to speak to the Church on marriage.
He said that their title to such authority rested on two facts: "First, they are the ministers of the sacrament. and secondly. they alone have experienced the effects of the sacrament, which enables them to participate in the love of Christ for his Church sacramentally".
'Moreover, if it is true that 'parents themselves must commit themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit who also teaches them anew through their
children', then 'A Fortiori it would seem that pastors should listen to the parents themselves. We have, then, another reason. the action of the Holy Spirit, in addition to the arguments outlined above."
The second point concerns the guidance and help which we the pastors must give to married persons today. It is well known that the whole question of birth control has been in recent years controversial, and the well-being of the Church has suffered."
"People have reacted differently. Some have no difficulty in accepting the total prohibitiorrof artificial means of contraception, and through living strictly within the limits laid down by the encyclical Homanue Vitae have discovered new riches in their married lives."
"Others cannot accept the total prohibition of the use of artificial means of contraception, where circumstances seem to make this necessary, or even desirable. Natural methods of birth control do not seem to them to he the definitive and only solution.
"It cannot just be said that these persons have failed to overcome their human fraility and weakness. The problem is more complex than that.
"Indeed such persons are often good, conscientious and faithful sons and daughters of the Church. They just cannot accept that the use of artificial means of contraception in some circumstances is intrinvire inhonesturn, as this latter has been generally understood.
"A third category of persons is confused. for they do not want to be disobedient to the magisterium of the Church, but at the same time they are not totally convinced by the arguments which are given to them to observe the norms laid down."
"Concentration on the controversial issue has hindered that development of the teaching on marriage which would bring out all the riches already contained in the Church's teaching, notably in the council document: 'On the Church
in the World "Today' and in the encyclical Humanac Vitae itself."
The cardinal ended his eight minute personal intervention by saying that he had not come to the synod with solutions to the difficult pastoral problems created by the controversy. He said that as a pastor, he was "much concerned for the spiritual welfare" of all the persons of whom he had spoken.
"I hope and pray that as a result of this Synod, I shall be better able to give guidance to those married people. who are looking to the Church for help. If we listen to all the different points of .view with understanding and sympathy, we shall surely discover, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the way to enable them to achieve that holiness to which they are called by their vocation to the married state," the Cardinal ended.
This synod is the first time that thy bishops of the world have had an opportunity to discuss together the controversial encyclical Romarrae Vitae, since it was promulgated in 1968,by Pope Paul VI.
Worlock urges 'mercy' for the divorced
ARCHBISHOP Derek Worloek placed a serious question mark against the exclusion of divorced and remained Catholics from the Eucharist when he addressed the Synod on Monday night.
Speaking in the name of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, the archbishop emphasised that there was "no easy answer" to the problem, particularly as pastors disagreed on the best policy.
"Some pastors argue that the
hurch's teaching on marital Fidelity and the contractual indissolubility are here at risk. They fear lest other Catholics would be scandalised and the bond of marriage weakened," he said.
But others, also asked for mercy and compassion for the repentant who have suffered irrevocable marital breakdown.
The tone of the archbishop's speech, however, seemed to indicate his own preference for mercy.
Drawing attention particularly to the stresses or modern city life, especially in the fields of housing and unemployment, he said: "Some marriages fail and ... to these victims of misfortune, not necessarily of personal sin, or of sin which has not been forgiven, the Church, both universal and local, must have a healing ministry of consolation."
He went on: "Moreover, many pastors nowadays are faced with Catholics whose first marriages have perished and who have a second and more stable, if legally only civil, union in which they seek to bring up a new family and often they long for the restoration ill' full Eucharistic communion with the Church and its Lord.
"Is this spirit of repentance and this desire to sacramental strength to be forever frustrated? Can they be told only that they must reject their new responsibilities as a necessary condition of forgiveness and the restoration of sacramental life?"
Archbishop Josef Tornko, the general secretary of the synod, said before it opened that discussions would centre on pastoral issues and would not include debates on Church doctrines such as the indissolubility of marriage or the illicitness of artificial birth control.
It is already clear, however, that delegates see the two issues as being closely related.
All of them know that they will have to tackle some of the most vexed questions of Catholic social and moral teaching. Naturally, however, opinions differ as to the priorities and developments in teaching which might emerge.
Archbishop Dermot Ryan of
Dublin told the Herald that he hoped the Synod would lind a way of communicating to the families of the western world the meaning of the Gospel as a source of encouragement and inspiration in family life.
A more specific response came from Cardinal James Knox, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. Warning that he would be blunt, Cardinal Knox said that he would like to see "A clear recognition of the values of Humunue Vitae for the life of the family."