PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 1995, 12:00am

FATHER Jose Mario O Mandia did not merely offer us his litanies on the Pope from Roman Catholic literature (Sunday Morning Post, October 15), he also gave us a particular interpretation of scriptures and tradition that is contentious. The Pope has made pronouncements that are not ex cathedra. For instance, he has condemned the use of all forms of contraception (but natural birth control is permitted), he has suggested that homosexual tendencies are an intrinsic evil, and he has imposed limitations on theological speculation by licensed teachers in the church (thereby denying theologians of their academic freedom and integrity). These positions are not infallible. Those members of the church who disagree with him have a responsibility to act in filial disobedience. The unreflective follower has no place in the modern world.

Father O Mandia's stance is not going to solve the problem so pointedly articulated by Pope Paul VI, who in 1967 said, 'The Pope - as we all know - is undoubtedly the gravest obstacle in the path of ecumenism.' The papacy can be a focus of unity in promoting Christian values which are shared by all people of God in a multi-faith society. It does not help if one simply regards the papacy as symbolising a particular brand of Christian faith.

It is disappointing that, like many pastors in the church today, Father O Mandia appears to lack the theological vision and courage to give such moral leadership. That the present incumbent in the Vatican also lacks such virtues is tragic.