' The opening of the door'
THE Bishop of Chichester. Dr. Bell, who is chairman of the Church of England's Council on Foreign Relations, stated last week that the Instruction issued by-the Holy Office on Christian reunion and cooperation "merits most careful consideration on the part of other Christian churches." " No thoughtless Christian," said Dr. Bell, "can fail to observe the importance of a step, justly described as the opening of the door, with safeguards.'
" I greatly hope that in the new situation created by the Vatican instruction, coupled with a full regard for the distinctive witness given by Protestant. Orthodox and other non-Roman Catholic churches to truth and freedom. a real step forward may he taken."
The Rev. Henry Carter, chairman of the Methodist Council's Standing Committee on Refugees, said:
"Although there are profound theological differences between the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church, there is much common ground on which all Christian people can work together for thegood of humanity without the sacrifice of conscience."
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr. W. A. Hooft, in Geneva, welcomed the Holy Office statement as " a step forward," but criticised parts of it on the ground that they leave " less room for pioneers."
He praised the direction permitting the saying in common of the Our Father or another prayer approved by the Church, and the attendance of Catholics at meetings to discuss social questions.
He remarked, however, that since meetings between Catholics and nonCatholics will be directed and supervised by the Catholic Bishops, " they will lose that informal and spontaneous character on which much of their value depended."
The Rev. Marc Boegner, president of the World Council of Churches, told a British United Press correspondent in Paris: " My first reaction is that it cannot be considered as a step towards more freedom of contact between qualified representatives of different Christian faiths, but a step backward."
But he added that the decree is of very great importance and that he is happy lo see that the Vatican is implicitly permitting Catholics to unite with Protestants against the social problems facing the world and to search together for the best means of joint social action.