FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
THE moral theologian who introduced Pope Paul's encyclical on birth control to the world said in a private interview in Rome that the Papal teaching must be accepted for two reasons.
Mgr. Ferdinand° Lambruschini, professor of moral theology at the Lateran University, said that loyalty to the magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) and faithfulness to the natural law required obedience to the encyclical.
Mgr. Lambruschini, who originally presented Humanae Vitae to the international Press, agreed to answer some questions about it in his apartment here. in Rome.
His strong defence of the authority of the encyclical comes at a time of renewed controversy about it in Europe, especially in Belgium and Germany. His defence takes on particular significance in view of reports that Mgr. Lambruschini supported a liberal position during his own membership on the Papal advisory commission on birth control.
Mgr. Lambruschini said that there had been much reaction against the rhythm method. "I think this is an unjust reaction. Perhaps it is even a little tactical in the sense that some would like to put the magisterium in the position of refusing rhythm along with the other methods. or of accepting all methods.
"So far as the rhythm method is concerned, there certainly do exist many deficiencies from a scientific point of view. But the Pope has appealed to scientists to resolve these deficiencies." From the moral point of view, Mgr. Lambruschini observed, nothing could be said against the rhythm method.
Mgr. Lambruschini said he has received many letters from the United States since the encyclical was published, "Almost all are favourable to the pontifical decision, and most of them denounce the parish priests and theologians whose criticism of the encyclical they consider scandalous."
"FREE TO ARGUE" Mgr. Lambruschini said that moral theologians were perfectly free to argue with each other, but they were not free to argue against the magisterium.
Asked about his widely quoted comment that the encyclical was not infallible, which he made when introducing it to the Press, Mgr. Lambruschini said he had been criticised from both sides. "The best defence of the encyclical today is loyalty," he said.
He said members of the advisory birth-control cornmission had shown their loyalty to the Pope by giving their "frank loyal opinions."
Mgr. Lambrtischini said he would have been equally loyal, regardless of which way the final decision went. "It is easy to give an opinion, but the decision has to be made by the Pope." Mgr. Lambruschini said that, theologically, to say something that is not irreformable does not necessarily mean it is reformable.
"In any event reform is not the responsibility of the theologians. It can come only at the highest level—from a Pope or a council. The big danger is that if we do not follow this encyclical, all others may be disregarded.
"Beyond that if we only give obedience when a ruling is infallible, what happens to our bishops? You just can't play around with it."
"It is impossible to ask the Church to form a list of infallible rulings and discard everything else. No civil government could operate on such a proposition, and neither can the Church. It would destroy the whole concept of authority.
"Without authority there is anarchy, There is a universal tendency against authority today. but I think there are few conscious anarchists."
Mgr. Lambruschini said he does not agree with those who fear open discussion. Dialogue should be frank and open, but also loyal. "No one person has a monopoly on the gift of guidance by the Holy Spirit.
"As all theologians think, conscience is the ultimate judge of all human behaviour. We are not behind the Protestants in this. For me it is not true that, as some have said, Protestants are guided by conscience and Catholics by authority.
"Catholics, too, are guided by conscience. The Church is not a substitute for individual conscience. But it does indicate the moral principles from which Conscience is formed."
Mgr.lLambruschini said that the encyclical, referring to moral laws as either natural or evangelical. makes its greatest apPeal to natural law. "Some tend to deny the natural law, but for me this is an unacceptable position." All theologians who admitted the natural law also admitted the competency of the magisterium.
Mgr. Lambruschini said it became difficult to determine precise details of natural moral law. On that, theologians should "have a pause for reflection."
It was not possible to deny the principles of natural moral law so that everything could be seen as good or bad simply according to a person's individual judgment or in terms of changing circumstances.
Asked whether hasty rejection of the Pope's teaching authority might undermine the foundation of theology as a discipline, Mgr. Lambruschini said that this is true and especially in America.
"There is a little naivete in the United States," he said. "Americans depend too much on everything. They used to depend on the Curia for everything and now they are attached to being against the Curia in everything."
Mgr. Lambruschini said that no one suggested that all the problems had been solved. But, he stressed, that it was possible to discuss questions within the context of the respect due to the ruling of the magisterium.
"This is valid above all for the pretext of the opposition that there is a lack of harmony between the magisterium and Vatican II. In his encyclical the Pope reaffirmed clearly the traditional teaching, but he reaffirmed it more positively and with much moderation."