BV the time this is being read by the majority of our readers, a new Pope may have been elected. As we go to Press, the conclave has assembled and the world is waiting to hear the name of Pope John's successor.
The great interest being taken in the election, and not only by Catholics, is in its way another tribute to the last Pope. For Pope John XXIII brought home, in a more direct and immediate way than any of his recent predecessors. the impact of the Papacy on Christendom and on the world. He created a new spirit which influenced, to some degree. every Catholic who took any interest at all in his religion and many nonCatholics as well. The volume of totally unsolicited regret at his death among people of all religions and none was a remarkable sign of the regard in which he was held by so many people.
Inevitably, therefore, the new Pope will be judged, at least until he has had time to create his own image and impact. by reference to where he stands in relation to his predecessor. If he is a Cardinal identified in the public mind with the policies which Pope John championed, the world will decide that the aggiornamento. to which the last Pope devoted his reign, will proceed. If the new Pope appears not to have supported those policies, then the expectation will be that some of those policies, as far as that is now possible, will be muted.
Those Catholics who have experienced the vivifying results of Pope John's "new Pentecost" will surely be praying that the new Pope will be of the same mind and will seek to advance, or at least to consolidate, the progress which Pope John made in his too-short reign.
"Unfortunately, the Abse bill is not an isolated case. Over a whole series of issues in which there is a conflict between the attitudes of present-day society and primitive Christian precepts—homosexuality, abortion. Sunday observance, licensing hours, to give only four examples — long-overdue reforms are being blocked by noisy conscience-mongers and by the unwillingness of M.P.'s to call their bluff." (The New Statesman editorial, May 10, on "Divorce, Sin and the Law.")
"Public morals cannot for long be divorced from private morals. Debase the one, and you end by debasing the other." (The New :Statesman editorial, June 14, on "The Bell Tolls For Mac".)
Can we have it both ways'? Would not the very "Reforms" demanded by people like Mr. Abse further debase private morals and lead, in turn, to a greater decline in public morality?