A BITTER quarrel has -CSbroken out in official Catholic circles in Australia over the country's involvement in the Vietnam fighting.
It was begun by an editorial in the Advocate, a weekly paper regarded by many as the Melbourne archdiocesan mouthpiece, condemning Government conscription for the Vietnam war as morally wrong.
It said bluntly that conscription was an evil thing in itself. And since most Australians were against involvement in Vietnam, this was certainly not an ernergecy which justified conscription.
The Vicar-General of Melbourne immediately retaliated with a condemnation of the Advocate's moral pronouncement. It had "no authority whatever" from the hierarchy to condemn the Government's decision. Besida this, he said, the Advocate's judgment was wrong. He accused the paper of championing "peace at any price".
The Government, he argued, were reluctant but firm in deciding to conscript men for Vietnam. And he insisted that
they were acting within their rights.
The Advocate later retorted that it was always known to be against conscription. It claimed the support of Church officials and organisations, including the former Anglican Bishop of Armidate, the Save Our Sons Committee and Australian Trade Union Council.
Lining up against t h e Advocate are the Catholic Information Bureau in Sydney and the Paulian Association, a lay organisation founded by Cardinal Gilroy of Sydney.
Dr. William Murray, three tor of the Catholic Information Bureau, went further than saying that conscription for Victnam was morally justified. The war, he said, was a grave threat to Australia, so the Government was in fact bound to enforce National Service.
The Paulian Association's Sydney Vision, also coming out in favour of conscription, said outright that Australia was "not morally free" to stay out of the war.
PICTURE BELOW: American troops in Vietnam attend Mass In the field.