CARDINAL HEENAN in his Pastoral Letter last Sunday prepared Catholics for Pope Paul's "wise and compassionate conclusions" on birth control.
Without prejudging the outcome, the Cardinal stressed that the modern Christian attitude to morals is "less concerned with rules and manmade regulations".
Starting with a look back on the Vatican Council, Cardinal Heenan said: "The Bishops were told by Pope John to bring the Church up-to-date. There was never any question of denying Catholic doctrine. The Council had to decide how to present that doctrine to the world in terms which men of our day can understand."
On the change in the modem outlook he went on: "Physical science has revealed new facts about nature. Medicine and psychology have made discoveries about human life itself. Although truth remains the same, our knowledge of it is always increasing."
On modern youth he said that though some people could speak no good of them, "essentially young people remain the same—venturesome, wayward, easily led and, above all, generous".
He pointed out instances of changing attitudes to right and wrong. On modem leniency in punishing criminals, he insisted that this was not a going back on moral principles. What has changed, he said, was only our judgment of how far punishment benefits the public.
He went on to give a clear direction on the practice of doing manual work on Sunday. The reason behind the past prohibition of this, he said, was "to protect servants from masters who refuse them leisure to worship God on Sunday".
But he denied that this necessarily meant a slackening in religious practice. "There are more at the altar rails than ever before," he said. "All Christians have become more conscious of the laws of charity and social justice but less con cemed with rules and manmade regulations."
Then, in an apparent reference to the current Birth Control Commission, the Cardinal added: "Husbands and wives, scientists and doctors, theologians and pastors of souls were invited to offer the Pope the fruits of their experience. Nobody will be able to say that he did not listen to his priests and people."
The Cardinal then criticised Catholics who have published their views on the morality of birth control.
"It is a pity," he said, "that everybody did not listen to his (the Pope's) plea for discretion while these questions were being considered by the Holy See, but loyal Catholics will all accept his verdict when the Vicar of Christ makes his long promised announcement."