ALAN McElwain, the Catholic Herald's Rome correspondent for 15 years and a former Australian newspaper editor, has died in Sydney at the age of 87.
Mr McElwain, who was born in New Zealand, joined the Sydney Daily Telegraph in 1940, before becoming the magazine editor of the Melbourne Herald and then editor of the Adelaide Sunday Mail.
But in 1957 he began a second career as a "Vaticanologist", his coverage of affairs in Rome spanning the reigns of three Popes. His reporting of the second Vatican Council was widely acknowledged as the most authoritative of any journalist writing in English.
In 1971 an article he wrote in the Catholic Herald, criticising the synod of bishops held that year, incensed the Roman curia and led to an attack on his views in the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano. The Catholic Herald's riposte, in cartoon form, depicted McElwain being ejected from the Vatican by Swiss guards, his notebook in his hand.
For 14 years after his return to Australia, McElwain represented the Sydney archdiocese as its press officer.