Fr. Brown More
Lucky Kenneth More spends his evenings these days being chased by luscious Liza Goddard and swinging Sandra Duncan (pictured with him above) while starring in "Signs of the Times", Jeremy Kingston's new play at the Vaudeville: I went backstage to say hallo to Kenny and congratulate him on such an enjoyable evening and yet another triumph for himself. I must say he certainly deserves his reputation as Britain's biggest box office draw and top "typical Englishman" post-war star. And he makes it all look so easy!
But he told me one evening some weeks ago at the Garrick Club that he will shortly be starting work on a television ,series in which he plays G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown. He was just asking me how he could gum up on some finer points of rites and rubrics if needed when in walked the well known Chelsea parish priest Canon de Zulueta. I immediately introduced them, but have not yet heard if Kenny is "under instruction" on how to become a Catholic priest—for thirteen weeks.
I should have thought he could rely on his own unerring instincts. Thomas More was after all his ancestor.
Some of our readers may have been lucky enough to catch, during its week's showing at the Electric Cinema, Portobello Road, a small film of great interest to Catholics. "A Place Called Ardoyne" deleted 40 minutes to showing, with illuminating comments from Fr. Colum, of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, something of the sufferings of the Catholic population of that square mile of Belfast.
Not that this short documentary showed more of the horrors than we have been used to watching night after nigh( on television — except pelaps in the effects of violence suggested in exhibitions of children's paintings and poems. But seeing them without the customary intervention of alien interviewers gave a much more immediate impression of what everyday life under the harrowing conditions must be like.
Philip Thompson, the young independent producer-directorphotographer who made "A Place Called Ardoyne." told our film critic, Freda Bruce Lockhart, how his film happened. Thompson is not a Catholic. He visited Northern Ireland first in 1970 for a week as a freelance photographer to get some stills for a television programme in California, where his brother David is a freelance journalist.
He got interested and stayed on, stirred by the spirit of the people engaged on a building project to rebuild damaged homes. He sent for his brother David from Los Angeles. Together they sold articles to an interested American public and eventually got some American backing for a ten-minute black and white short on the Ardoyne. Gradually the plan and the backing expanded to the threequarter-hour colour documentary which has just been given its one week's showing by the group called The Other Cinema.
Thompson went back to Belfast to cover the elections to the North of Ireland Assembly. this time for Danish television. If Thompson can keep his cool head and warm heart over the tempestuous troubles, he and his brother may corner a valuable market for objective reporting of the Catholic situation there.
At least one English "national" critic has accused 'A Place Called Ardoyne" of extreme bias. "He should have seen some of what was left on the cutting-room floor," commented Thompson. I thought much of its impact came from the objective reporting.
Brother Denis Casey, C.F.M., who is, his Father Provincial reveals, the +eminence verte of the Claretian Order in England — instructs me to convey to Miss Annie Ellwood of Highcliffe-on-Sea, who is 90 this month, the affectionate greetings of hundreds of Claretian students, now priests, to whom she fed tea or coffee,, cakes and bread and jam during
their sojourn at the seminary in Highcliffe Castle.
"Miss Annie" has lived in
Highcliffe all her life. Her father was „headmaster of the village school. She was approaching SO when she was received into the Church.
Every morning, Brother Casey tells me, Miss Annie and her sister are present at Mass, They live just across the way. The Claretians include men from all Europe, from Latin America and Asia. They have two Scotsmen, Brother Casey reports one presently being shot at in the Philippines. All send their love to their 90-year-old
friend and hostess. .
Opus Dei is a purely spiritual lay organisation whose influence on general affairs is indirectly brought to bear through the daily lives of dedicated individuals. One of the reasons why some people suspect it of being more than this is probably the overdefensiveness with which any such a thing is denied. It is a case of "protesting too much."
There is nothing of which to be ashamed in trying to influence secular events by individual spirituality. And ,naturally members of the same organisation will recognise each other and want to work together. Political activity moreover is a perfectly legitimate means for exercising such influence. Opus Dei in fact might have more friends if it did not think it had so many enemies.
The point comes to mind because of a book about to be published called "Hitler's Rise to Power," by Geoffrey Pridham. It deals with the very important Nazi movement in Bavaria' between 1923 and 1933. The Nazis' principal opponents wen. the mainly Catholic members of the Bavarian People's Party. Had there been less confusion and timidity about Catholic involvement in political crusading, the Nazis might not have had such a comparatively easy passage. As it was, their singIe-minded political tactics finally won the day over wellmeaning Catholic circumspection.
An old and valued friend or mine, Canon J. B. O'Connell, has just completed his sixty years as a priest. It seems somehow impossible since the Canon, though living a fairly retired life near Reading, is endowed with almost eternal youth.
. He did not "celebrate" his jubilee in any secular sense of the word, not having the facilities to do so. But it was a notable spiritual celebration nevertheless, preceded by a stay with relations in Portugal.
Canon O'Connell is a sort of pillar of the old school, whose profound liturgical scholarship Makes him not just up to date but usually a step ahead of most others. His loyalty to official directives in liturgical matters (such as 1969's "M issale Romanum") and his ability academically to out-manoeuvre the more-Catholic-than-thePope faction, no doubt makes him a raging progressive in their eyes. But I expect, like myself and many others, he still misses the old Tridentine Latin Mass very much.
He is above all a Churchman for all seasons, possessed of a timeless sort of spirituality, erudition, sense Of humour and
gift for friendship. He was for
many years parish priest of Builth Wells (where he kept some excellent wine in the sacristy as far as I remember?) and has travelled all over the world. When, in America, Catholic booksellers .talked about the "Knox Missal" he would politely point out their mistake. The Missal to which they referred (with Knox translations of the scriptural passages) was in fact the famous O'Connell-Finberg Missal, with translation of the Ordinary and general editing in the hands of the Canon and H. P. R. Finberg,
Ad multos annosl
Postscript to an apocalyptic letter received this week by the editor: "Don't knock Enoch — he's already doomed." `'A " someRiat flamboyant piece of inlaid marquetry" is the kind of phrase in which Agatha Christie has long delighted. It tends to make this art form seem exotic and esoteric. But Peter Thompson has achieved, through the medium, a marvellous likeness of the former U.S. Vice-President, Mr. Hubert Humphreys. Peter Thompson made the portrait while he was a patient in B roadmoor, an experience he has described in his extraordinarily interesting book. "Bound for Broadmoor." But was only recently that he has had the chance of showing it to the former Vice-President. To Mr. Humphreys' remark that "your portrait makes me look like a saint," Mr. Thompson's reply was "In Broadmoor it
Peter Boyle's amusing performance as the ex-embeazler, night club comic in the very funny -peripatetic Ameriam him comedy "Slither" reminded Inc that Peter is one actor who only by a last-minute decision became an actor instead of a priest. .
I met him when he came to London for the opening of "Joe" and remember his saying how many years he'd spent on his knees either scrubbing the floor or praying (or perhaps both?). He thought he would probably always hope to go on praying,
Since our conversation I have watched his subsequent career with interest to see how he seemed to be adjusting. There have certainly been no signs of his career faltering after his brilliant performance as Robert helps to believe in saints."
Among other things, Peter Thompson is an enterprising public relations man, An important forthcoming event he will be helping to promote will be the viSit of Dr. Billy Graham to Britain toward the end of August. The visit is being sponsored by SPREE (Spiritual 11.Emphasis), and anyone interested may telephone Peter Thompson for further information at.01-26'7 0065.
Perhaps I should add that the giving of this information is en-, tirely a "motu proprio" on my part. Peter Thompson happened to send me the photograph which I reproduce above at a moment when I was reading about the SPREE plans. Telling the truth is surely the best form of public relations!
Redford's political agent in "The Candidate", and now this authoritative, rather heavyweight comic turn in "Slither".
Gift from Bavane
Meanwhile a London Church with a long and well known association with Bavaria has received a beautiful and appropriate gift. It consists of al statue of Our Lady as "Patrona 13avariae" and the recipient 'church is that of Our Lady of The Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street.
The presentation was made (at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Heenan yesterday) by the Bavarian Minister of Economics, Herr Anton Jaumann.