VATICAN officials ex
pressed appreciation this week of the "deep spirit of charity" contained in the statement on birth control which the French bishops issued last Friday.
The 120 members of the French episcopate said in their statement that although contraception was always a "disorder," it need not imply moral guilt on the part of married couples who practised it. This was a matter for the couples to decide themselves after serious reflection before God.
Explaining this interpretation of the Pope's ruling, Bishop Boillon of Verdun told a Press conference that a Catholic who felt compelled to use artificial means of birth control need not confess it to a priest and could take communion with a clear conscience.
A Catholic couple had the duty to try to abide by the Church's teaching and the duty to preserve the stability of their marriage, the bishops said. When these duties conflicted, a couple must prayerfully decide which duty took precedence.
"Contraception can never be good," they said. "It is always a disorder but this disorder is not always guilty."
Bishop Boillon drew a parallel from his experience as a Resistance leader during the war. "I killed four Germans," he said. "I try to justify myself before God, but I did not accuse myself at confession of a sin. I had a conflict of duty between the duty of defending my country and that of respecting human life. Killing those Germans was evil but not a sin," the Bishop said.
The Bishop said that the
statement had been approved by all but three or four of the bishops present. The three days of debate in Lourdes which preceded the publication of the statement were the climax of months of discussion on the subject among priests and laymen.
The declaration which was finally approved was the eighth draft arising from prior discussions and it included nearly 500 amendments.
SEE U.S. STATEMENT—P.9 Anglicans' dignity—P.4
Bishop Petit sees the Pope
B1SHOP PETIT of Menevia, who is visiting Rome, was received in private audience by the Pope on Thursday last week.