TO BACK ENCYCLICAL
BISHOPS throughout Bri
tain and Ireland urged priests and lay people to follow the Pope's direction on birth control this week following an unprecedented storm of criticism of the encyclical.
Westminster Cathedral was packed when Cardinal Heenan's message was read there. The Church has compassion on many for whom the Pope's birthcontrol ruling would bring hardship. the Cardinal said.
"Those who have become accustomed to using methods which are unlawful may not be able all at once to resist temptation. They must not despair. Above all, they must not abstain from the Sacraments. However often they fail they must ask God's Grace to find the strength to obey his law."
Pastorals were also read in the dioceses of Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Salford, Clifton, Lancaster and Hexham and Newcastle. In a widely-quoted letter Archbishop Murphy called the encyclical "the Magna Carta, not merely of all women. but of all men and all children."
Archbishop Dwyer of Birmingham said that it was the Pope's duty to teach the Faith as it had been handed down from the beginning. He had no power to change it. But the Church had charity for those who failed to follow the teaching of the encyclical.
"That is why the Pope tells us we must loyally hold to this doctrine in its fullness—hut al the same time he urges those who fall not to stop going to confession and Holy Cornmunion," Archbishop Dwyer said. "The sacraments are not a reward for virtue. They are the means by which we schieve it."
Points from other Pastorals:
Bishop Rudderham of Clifton: "All forms of artificial birth control are in opposition to the Divine plan for human life. All are bound by this decision: none can rightfully dispute it or cast doubt upon it.
"For many of you, this chal
lenge has now come directly and unequivocally. If you are to meet it, your trust must be ilt God. It is with Him in prayer and in Mass and in the Sacraments that you must face this challenge."
Bishop Holland of Salford: "For Catholics nobody else's judgment compares with the Pope's. For many other Christians his voice counts supremely in what concerns God.
"Why then the disappointment and the wrangling even among some of our own household? Frankly it was hoped the answer would be to relax the teaching of Popes Pius XI and XII. It was not clear their verdict was a definition of Faith like the Assumption or the Immaculatae Conception. So much seemed to have changed with the discovery of the pill and with the writings of new thinkers who had no difficulty in finding readers."
Bishop Wheeler of Leeds: "Artificial birth control can only bring disaster on the human race. It leads easily to
conjugal infidelity and the lowering of
morality. It can lead to a lowering of re spect for woman as an individual. It panders to selfish enjoyment."
Liverpool. Brentwood. Southward and Nottingham will have their Pastorals this gr. Sunday. In his letter Arch bishop Beck of Liverpool says that a sense of C ompassion
and charity runs through
—How different is the tone from that of Pope Pius XI's Encyclical on Christian Marriage published in 1930. Pope Pius XI spoke severely—even harshly—of those who frustrate the natural power to generate life as doing something shamefut and vicious, and being guilty of grave sin.
"Pope Paul, in striking contrast, makes no such condemnations," says Archbishop Beck. "Only once • does he mention sin. and then in a gentle and pastoral way. He
urges married couples who have difficulty in following his teaching to persevere in prayer, to seek grace and charity in the Eucharist, not to be discouraged, but to rely on the mercy of God which is poured Out in the Sacrament of Penance."
In Scotland Archbishop Gray of St. Andrews and Edinburgh took a more severe view of the Pope's encyclical. "There will be absolution for those who fail to maintain the standard, but who show their intention to abide by it. It is quite natural that people will err from time to time." But he added that absolution would certainly not be granted to those who completely reject the ruling.
The Irish bishops, under the leadership of Cardinal Con way of Armagh stated their acceptance of the Pope's ruling this week. The Cardinal said that it was probably inevitable that some theologians, acting in good faith, should have reached a conclusion different to that of the Pope while the question was being debated.
"But the Pope is not just another theologian," he said. "He is the one person in the Church who, as an individual, enjoys an altogether special assistance from the Holy Spirit in making up his mind on a matter of faith and morals which affects the whole Church."
Bishop Browne of Galway, said in his Pastoral that opposition to the Church's teaching on birth control had been expressed by not more than four or five out of 2.000
bishops at the Second Vatican Council.
Bishop Browne said that critics of the encyclical included atheists, existentialists, and those engaged in producing contraceptive pills, Bishop McClean of Middlesbrough said that the encyclical removed any doubt which might have existed.
Bishop Foley of Lancaster: "All Catholics will loyally accept this ruling as they have always done in the past. They must not allow themselves to be upset by the criticism of those who had expected and hoped for a change, even if these be themselves members of the Church. Too many have followed the clamour of the world and are naturally disappointed at the Holy Father's declaration."