BY CHRISTOPHER LAMB
LIVERPOOL’S CATHOLIC PICTORIAL will be relaunched as a full-colour monthly magazine, rather than a weekly newspaper, its management has confirmed.
The first edition will be on sale from September 3 2004, and will cost £1.
The new editor, diocesan press secretary Peter Heneghan, said he hoped that the magazine would accurately reflect life in the Archdiocese and that he had no intention of “shying away” from any difficult issues which may arise.
Ex-editor David Mahon resigned in protest in May this year, amid accusations that there had been no consultation on the change in format. He claimed that he was only informed of the change when the trustees decided to withdraw the front page of the paper to make the announcement. When he wrote a leader in the same edition criticising the decision, it was extracted.
Several key contributors including Fr Brian Newns who wrote the popular “Dinosaur” column, also resigned.
Mr Mahon, who edited the newspaper for 12 years, said this week that the change to a monthly magazine was because the publishers “couldn’t be bothered with a weekly paper” and that it was “nothing to do with finances”.
He claimed that other publishers were interested in taking on the paper in its existing format but the trustees were not prepared to negotiate.
Mr Mahon said that, as editor, he was honest about failings in Liverpool Archdiocese. He remains critical of the archdiocese’s decision to spend £40 million pounds on the refurbishment of the metropolitan cathedral while at the same time closing down many local parish churches.
He said: “The Catholic Pictorial was an extraordinarily popular and high quality newspaper; there isn’t a single Archdiocesan publication like it.
“Now that it has been taken away, as a journalist, you throw your hands up in horror.” The paper, better known as the “Pic”, was founded by Norman Cresswell in 1962 and is owned by the trustees of the diocese, who include Archbishop Patrick Kelly. The Church did not profit from the 9,000 weekly sales; revenue went to pay the publisher (Catholic Pictorial Ltd) and the editorial staff.
The paper, established under Archbishop John Heenan, was intended to be the first Catholic tabloid or “red top”. The title “pictorial” was taken from the Sunday Pictorial, a popular tabloid in the 1960s.
Liverpool Archdiocese had already paved the way for a diocesan publication, with the monthly Parishioner, founded in 1917 which later, in 1922, became the Liverpool Catholic Parishioner, and from 1931-62 the Catholic Record.