BY VIVIANE HEWITT IN
THE POPE'S NEW encyclical on morality, expected to be published on 25 July, the 25th anniversary of Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, has already drawn criticism from German theologians.
In particular, the theologians have attacked leaked excerpts for their attitude to women in the Church. There was no discrimination against women in Christ's teaching, said Tubingen theologian Norbert Creinacher, and their exclusion from a more active role today was "a scandal if compared with the message of Christianity".
The encyclical is expected to be a reiteration of papal infallibility and a severe condemnation of five social trends abortion, contraception, homosexuality, marriage for priests and women's ordinations.
On moral questions, a fundamental difference between this text and Paul VI's Humanae Vitae is said to be
that while the 1968 encyclical condemns all specific forms of contraception, especially the contraceptive pill, John Paul 11 limits himself to a stout reaffirmation of papal infallibility "as far as teaching on social customs is concerned".
The Pope is not likely to list do's and dont's but stressing infallibility, say observers, is a means of "covering" all the issues which he sees as a threat to the integrity of the faith birth control, abortion and changes in the priesthood.
It is feared that the new encyclical could widen the gap between Rome and the more liberal Churches, such as the North American and northern European Churches. And some commentators in Rome are suggesting that it could also sound a definitive death knell for ecumenical dialogue with the Church of England.
The underlying theme of the new text, according to sources, is that embracing Catholicism "is a choice, not an adaptation to the world".