-ARCHBISHOP ROBERTS ACALL for joint consultation with other Churches on the subject of birth control was made last week by Archbishop Roberts, S.J. "Action is needed now," he said, "and a joint commission on the subject would to some extent be reparation for the past.
"To say, as the Pope did, that the teaching authority of the Church is not in a state of doubt on the issue of birth control is to deny a plain fact," the Archbishop said in an interview in New Christian, the interdenominational fortnightly news review.
"The longer that doubt remains unresolved, the more the authority of the Church is weakened and her image tarnished in non-Catholic eyes." The old standards were being upheld in public while ignored in private.
"BAN DISREGARDED" "By and large, the younger and better educated married couples in Britain are, like the Dutch, disregarding the ban on artificial methods as impossible. Others are accepting it, hoping for a change, and meanwhile keeping, with great hardship, the old law.
"It has been widely reported, and never yet denied, that Pope Paul's special commission on birth control voted in favour of allowing some kind of contraception, with a majority of up to 90 per cent. That would possibly become 99 per cent if a vote were taken by all committed Christians.
Archbishop Roberts argued that it would be advantageous to benefit from the experience of the Anglicans, who over 50 years had come to a gradual acceptance of contraception. The Catholic Church claimed that the question of the morality of birth control, or of the methods used did not rest primarily on revelation but on the natural law.
A Jesuit priest last Sunday attacked Archbishop Roberts' views from the pulpit. Speaking at the close of a mission in St. John the Baptist Church, Brighton, Fr. Thomas Conlan, S.J., said the Archbishop, like the Anglicans, had "naively fallen for the widespread fallacy: over-population, therefore contraception. Time and again this has been exposed as the fraud it is." Bishops may
not debate birth control
By a Special Correspondent WHAT the first world wide Synod of Bishops will discuss when they meet at the end of September has not yet been announced. Rumours in Rome, however, say that Pope Paul wants to prohibit discussion of birth control and that his advisers want priestly celibacy left alone as well.
The Pope has drawn up the agenda himself. It will be sent to national conferences of Bishops by Easter to allow several months' study.
Cardinal Suenens of Belgium said last week the Pope was postponing a decision on birth control because of medical doubts over the effects various methods, including pills, may have on health.
The celibacy problem took on a new urgency as 83 priests and monks of the Rome diocese were reported this week to have written to the Pope, asking to be released from their vows.
In the past 10 years, 10,000 priests over the world are estimated to have made similar requests. Although this figure has not been confirmed officially by the Vatican, it is considered feasible by priests working close to the Holy Office.
300 IN HOLLAND In Holland this week it was announced that 60 Dutch priests have left their ministry in the last year, bringing the total in recent years to over 300.
Cardinal Alfrinck of Utrecht said the Bishops had arranged for extensive opinion surveys to be carried out among the country's Catholics, questioning their attitudes to priestly celibacy.