CRBANUS was taken to task by one or two people for reporting what was at first a behind-the-scenes expression of desire in England with regard to the 1981 papal visit. This concerned the hope that the Pope. when he came, would listen as well as just talk. Now, however, the National Conference of Priests has brought this hope out into the open and the air has somewhat been cleared.
There was also some criticism of this column for being the first to reveal the Vatican's over optimism in reporting on the Pope's health. The air is once more clearer now that the true state of the Pope's health is a matter of general knowledge. Our prayers for the Pope are more sober and meaningful in the fresh air of recovered reality.
When the Pope visits us, Deo voiente, he will be a very different man from what he was a few months ago. The dastardly act against his life has changed all for ever. Such acts, however incomprehensible, have their meaning in God's eyes. The love for a Pope bearing such signs of adversity will be even more intense than the love for a seemingly oracular superman. And the mutual compassion between Pope and people will surely have increased poignancy.
There is already, in fact, less talk of "insulting" the Pope merely by openly stating the importance of seeing him, through eyes of love, as a final court of appeal against damagingly hardline moralising and the other obstacles to a more healthy faith as experienced by, among others, the National Conference of Priests.
There also appears to be some vindication in all this for an organisation rendered somewhat obscure by opposition and alleged censorship. namely the "Roman Catholic Feminists". They have been haling a hard time of it lately since their advertisements have been banned in certain sections of the Catholic press and the monastery where their newsletter was duplicated has withdrawn its facilities on the grounds that its machines were being "overloaded".
The trouble seems to hose been triggered off by a newsletter in October of last year which urged that the Pope's visit of next year should take a constructive form and that the Holy Father should have greater opportunities of listening to what Christians had to say than had been possible on previous visits round the world.
The ladies of course may have been tactless, or appeared so. in the presentation of their case. Enthusiasts often are. And mere men are inclined to be suspicious of feminists even if they are only saying the same thing that other men are saying.
The Catholic Feminists thus seem to find themselves at a disadvantage. Even though they only said what the National Conference of Priests later said in more detail and with greater explicitness, they were guilty of two crimes. They were the first to come out in public with what many had been saying in private. And secondly they were women. No doubt their future efforts will be pitched at a lower key.