By Fr. JOSEPH CHRISTIE, S.J.
THAT will be the day! When someone can knock Desmond Albrow down with a Farm Street feather, I mean. It is difficult to discern whether the heading to his article in last week's CATHOLIC HFRALD implies that I resemble the immortal Destry or a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Be that as it may, the Apostolic Delegate wanted to meet us—members of the Guild of Catholic Journalists— as we are.
We are a rumbustious. cheerful, controversial and loquacious gang of people. Looking back over 20 years with the Catholic journalists of Fleet Street, it is hard to think of any evening when there was not a fairly generous emission of heat and light. Always we have delighted in entertaining controversial figures and have managed to get a fair share of them.
When one thinks of Edward Leadley, George Heseltine and our late, beloved Leo Blennerhasset rising in distinctive forms of wrath (assumed or otherwise) to prophesy the imminent destruction of Christendom, or some other valued institution, it is hard not to think that Desmond Albrow is lapsing into an uncharacteristic pomposity.
Triumphalism appears to die hard. I was instructed by the Secretary and the Chairman of the "Keys," both of whom I greatly
fear, to be present and give thanks to Archbishop Cardinale. Therefore I rushed down to Fleet Street after my talk at Kingsway and managed to hear most of an admirable paper. I confess that I was a bit tired and hungry and suggested to my kindly masters that I should thank the Archbishop and then slip away to get some food and rest. It had been a hard day's night.
Starting hares at the "Keys." is an occupational art. A hare was chosen by me and the brethren were left to hunt it. This sort of thing one has been doing for years like all other "Keys" men.
At this point I should bring in the Cambridge affair. I propose to do nothing of the sort. The Editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD says I owe him and his paper an apology and this I offer con amore. It is water under the bridge. Perhaps a story might help of two apocryphal Irishmen (they could be Scots or Welsh) who, after a great deal of feuding met unexpectedly on Easter Sunday after making their Easter duties.
"Tis a good thing for you," said the "Keys" type, "that I am at this moment, in a state of Grace, it is lovely, but please God it will not last too long." We never have verbal brawls at our meetings— just a lot of fun and no holds barred. I wish His Grace the Apostolic Delegate, had really seen us in action. With a little bit of luck we may get him again.
May I say this. I believe that the Catholic Press in this counry is in grave danger of a quiet, unobserved take-over on the part of the secular Press. The Catholic gets news about the Church in his daily paper or television, long before the HERALD et alit can print it.
People will not pay 6d. to read all about it all over again. They might pay the money in order to discuss it if they thought the discussion were to be fair . . . fuddy duddies and all! But the contributors to the Catholic Press have their doubts about this.
When the HERALD columnist, Mr. St. JohnStevas, wishes to get nasty about me he goes off to the Times. If he wants to help our Hierarchy with some policy guide-lines (bless him!) he goes off to the Sunday Telegraph. I wonder why? Has he no faith in the value of the CATHOLIC HERALD? He wants an audience? Does he doubt that he will have an audience worthy of his salt? Does Hamish Fraser complaining in the Glasgow Herald (April 15, 1967) fear that he will be subject to censorship? This is what I wanted to discuss. Can we?