Ecumenism must not be understood as an effort to convert those of other faiths to one’s own convictions, said Archbishop John Heenan of Westminster at the first council press conference under the auspices of the English hierarchy here. “The essential,” said Archbishop Heenan, “is the dialogue, and the eventual goal is reunion in charity.”
Speaking of the discussion now in progress at the council on the schema, “On the Nature of the Church,” Archbishop Heenan said that papal infallibility long was wrongly understood to mean a sort of intellectual dictatorship. He added that the council is trying to make it clear that papal infallibility never was intended to destroy the teaching authority of the episcopate.
On the other hand, he said, “the precise scope of the collegiality of the bishops” remains to be defined.
Abbot Christopher Butler, O.S.B., of Downside Abbey, who attended the conference together with Coadjutor Bishop Thomas Holland of Portsmouth, expressed the view that future decisions of national episcopal conferences will have to be reached as a “kind of gentlemen’s agreement” without attempting to impose the views of the majority upon those who might disagree.
Answering correspondents’ questions, Bishop Holland said that “there is absolutely no chance of relaxing the rule of clergy celibacy.”
Discussing the council in general, Archbishop Heenan said that compared to the previous session, the present one proceeds in an “enormously different atmosphere, which is very refreshing.” There is no grouping of nationalities or ideas, and all view the situation ecumenically, Archbishop Heenan said.