The Vatican's new "Official Secrets Act," made public last week, quotes copiously from Scripture in explanation of the reasons underlying the need for secrecy as well as starting off with a plenitude of aphorisms and reading somewhat like a book on etiquette for the debutant
However, for the first time the reasons for needing secrecy are spelt out and are — as given in the ten points cited — understandable and most logical, such as during the preparatory stages of a papal or episcopal document, some negotiations (in others silence could well work to the detriment and not the benefit of the Church) and nominations to the Colle,ge of Cardinals or to the Episcopate, et C.
But what is neither understandable nor logical is the undue prolongation of such secrecy long after the need for it has passed. In many eases directives sent to the world hierarchies call for action, and such action automatically means the "leaking" of instructions which should become public knowledge if they are to be Followed.
in example of this was the reiteration of the Church's stand on birth control, sterilisation and abortion for World Population Year 1974. This should have been made public as soon as known to be in the hands of the entire world episcopate, for it is basic to the Catholic Faith and not a "secret" for the bishops only.
One interesting revelation in this Secrecy Act is that the Vatican City State, like any other power, resorts to code hooks and coded messages. One wonders what typeof code is used: merely a simple one to keep the telegraph operators igsnorlaentinogf current affairs or something
that would call for the brains and .computers of the Kremlin, Whitehall and Pen tagon to Work overtime in "cracking" it.
A unique exhibition marking the life of Cardinal William Theodore Heard, who died on September 16, 1973, has just closed at the Venerable English College in Rome after being open to visitors since last November.
One of the major exhibits was the getter°, the red hat awarded to a cardinal by the Pope as a
sign that they must be prepared to spill their blood for the Church and which is never worn, but placed on their coffins during the Requiem Mass.
Cardinal Heard's red hat has an added distinction since it was
the first red hat given to a Scottish cardinal since the Reformation and also the last such red hat awarded to a Scottish cardinal.
By the time Pope Paul VI created Archbishop Gordon
Joseph Gray of Edinburgh a cardinal in 1969 he had already abolished the galero as triumphalistic.
Other exhibits range from photos taken when the late car dinal was an Oxford rowing blue to the Bull appointing him Protector of the English College, signed by Pope John XXIII plus a receipt from the Vatican for the 5,000 lire (about £3) which Cardinal Heard had
1.0 pay before he was given the Bull. There is also his latest British passport showing his profession as "Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church."
Don The Irish in Rome and their guests celebrated St Patrick's Day last Sunday in a new-found community spirit which saw Irish expatriates even coming here from as far away as Switzerland.
This year the celebrations were more genuinely Irish in nature. The masses were concelebrated by the Irish priests of the colleges and religious in stitutions and a departure from custom — no Roman Curia cardinal was invited.
The day's celebrations started maybe more fatally, by at St Isidore's, the home of materialism.
Irish Franciscans, with Mgr "In times of danger people Famonn Marron, Rector of the rally round the flag. We are in Irish Pontifical college, as chief danger and it is time to rally' celebrant. In the congregation round the standard of Christ were Bishop Donal Herlighy of with Patrick as our leader."
Ferns, the Irish Ambassador to Both the Irish colleges and St the Quirinale Mr Denis R. Patrick's Augustinian College McDonald, a nd M r s gave receptions for Irish and
McDonald; and the Irish amtheir Italian friends, Fr Gabriel bassador to the Holy See, Mr M cDonagh, Rector of St Thomas V Cornmins. Patrick's, was chief celebrant at He said: "It is not fashionable to talk of the Devil or the powers of darkness, but it must be said that there are spirits and powers at work in Ireland today, We arc in trouble and no one
seems to have an answer, •
"Life is cheap in Ireland today, and by, life I include spiritual life. It isn't only guns and bombs that are our danger. We are threatened too. and Ten students at the Venerable English College in Rome received the Ministry of Lector from Bishop Brewer, Auxiliary of Shrewsbury, at a Mass held on St. Patrick's Eve in the college chapel. Bishop Brewer, who was formerly vice-rector of the college, was the chief celebrant at a concelebrated Mass attend, ed by the present Rector, Mgr. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, members of the faculty and friends of the new lectors,