From ALAN McELWAIN in Rome
A MAJOR clash on the Church's attitude to nuclear weapons is certain when -"L the fourth session of. Vatican TI discusses the new text of Schema 13 (The Church in the Modern World). The Schema was criticised at the last session as a "naive" document, but has been extensively rewritten into what one Vatican expert has described as a "completely realistic one". One of its proposals is believed to be that the use of nuclear arms can be justified in special cases.
The implications of these changes will be full of meaning for the 2,500 Bishops of the Council, and for the world's Catholics. But the indications are that the controversial document will be passed — after some lively debates.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Heenan, giving the final Burge Memorial lecture in Church House, Westminster, on Tuesday, said that Christians should work for complete disarmament at all times. But, he added, "it is difficult to declare that Christians ought to disarm and leave their families and nations to the mercy of the enemy". 'Full Report—Back Page.] The old text of Schema 13 contained an outright condemnation of nuclear arms and rearmament, a stand which was criticised by many of the Bishops. The new text, however. refrains from condemning the possession of such weapons as a deterrent. It is also believed to admit that their use in a "war of defence" can be justified, and calls on all nations and peoples to face up to the duty of international disarmament.
A well-informed Council expert, however, said last week that it "in no way" approves of nuclear warfare. He said the press reports that the Schema gives conditional sanction to the use of atomic weapons were inexact, and added: "It would be madness to think that the Council would approve of nuclear warfare, or that the joint commission redrafting the Schema would submit such a statement to the Council Fathers."
However, the expert, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that the document's new treatment of the problem is now more detailed and that a distinction has been made in the text between a total war of extermination and a defensive war.
The stress, he said, is laid on the duty of those in authority to avoid war of any kind.
An article in Civilta Cattolica, the Rome-published Jesuit review whose statements can be regarded as semi-official, has described extreme pacifism as "suicidal and forbidden by obvious moral reasons".
It said that if a nation's rights are under attack, and if an adversary has attacked first with nuclear arms, then the Church believes that it is permissible to repulse the attacker "even with atomic weapons".
This does not mean, it added, that approval should be given to the arms race. It only means that "not to defend oneself, in the case of unjustified aggression against the essential goods of human coexistence, would not be Christian".
Within the next few days all the Bishops of the Council should have received the new text of Schema 13. The revisions have been carried out by the joint commission, composed of members of the theological commission and the Commission for the Laity, with the support of other Bishops and sonic lay auditors.
Their task was to make the document more realistic, in line with the expressed wishes of the Council at the third session. Many Bishops said that the Schema's idea of complete renunciation of nuclear arms would in practice leave entire nations and peoples at the mercy of aggressive nations, governed by men without moral scruples and fanatical about their ideologies.
In other words, how could the Western world throw away its nuclear stockpile without leaving the Christian way of life at the mercy of the Communists? Western leaders who threw away their deterrents would be failing badly in their moral duty to protect the best interests and rights of their people.
There was also a midway opinion; several Bishops distintinguished between tactical nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons—i.e., between low-power and high-power arms—and proposed that, while strategic weapons Continued on Back Page, Col, 6