IT WOULD be hard to meet a more charming fellow than Frank Giles, a journalist of the old school but blessed with eternal youth both in outlook and appearance. His autobiography, Sunday Times, is about to appear and makes enthralling reading.
It has been my pleasure to meet Frank, sometime editor of the Sunday Times, on many occasions, and his natural style as a highly unboring raconteur makes him the ideal autobiographer. Having travelled so widely, he has much to tell.
He was in Rome in the early 1950s and got to know Mgr Montini as also, it so happens, I did myself. As Frank puts it, "he (Montini) had the enviable but potentially inconvenient gift of making each visitor feel that he was the person Montini had been waiting all his life to talk to."
Later on, as Frank Giles adds, "he was widely seen as the most probable successor to John XXIII." Indeed I became so convinced myself that this would happen that I wrote Montini's biography and persuaded a publisher to take it "on spec." It was already in galley proof the day after Cardinal Montini became Pope Paul VI, on June 20, 1963. It was published in paperback in time for his coronation ten days later and naturally sold innumerable copies before being replaced by lengthier and more detailed treatises. A one-off lucky effort!
It is astonishing, however, how difficult it is to dig up facts about people before they become really famous, but how readily the information pours out when they become world figures. Especially, as Frank Giles points out, in the Vatican where journalists are rarely if ever given important interviews and press relations are notoriously chaotic.
One of the chaps
I NOTICE that TOC H is seeking "a Christian Minister or Priest to serve as National Chaplain."
They add in their announcement that "(S)he will be one of a new team of four principal officers, based on Wendover, Bucks."
In other words the new Minister may be either male or female. If the successful applicant turns out to be the latter, it will be the first time TOC H has had a woman minister since its inception.
Thic occurred during the first World War, TOC H having been the brainchild of the Revd P C Clayton. His idea was to provide, as an Anglican army chaplain, more than just formal and often rather stiff services and comforts for soldiers in the dreadful conditions of that horrific Great War.
There was no NAAFI in those days and Clayton had the idea, when in Belgium in 1915, of starting what was then named Talbot House, in memory of Gilbert Talbot who had recently been killed in action. Rest centres and the like were set up and the movement became worldwide to devolve, as it has today, into an ecumenical Christian fellowship devoted to social service.
The name TOC H derives from army signallers designations of the initials T H. It is interesting to speculate what "Tubby" Clayton, as he was called, would have thought of a woman as one of his principal chaplains.
Voice of the moment
ON MY shelf of reference books there is a volume entitled Readings in Moral Theology which is number five in the series "Official Catholic Social Teaching", issued by the Paulist press. It was published in May.
One of its editors is the now well known Fr Charles Curran. Along with his co-editor, Fr Richard McCormick SJ, he writes in the foreword, "We obviously have our own positions, but this volume tries to give a faithful representation of the many different approaches that have been taken to Catholic social teaching."
Fr Curran supplies one of the essays, namely "Changing Anthropological Bases of Ethics," but no contentious matter is there to be found since the moral issues with which Fr Curran has more recently become somewhat sensationally associated do not impinge on this particular area.
But he does make one general statement which may now have more read into it than when it was first written, viz his remarks regarding the message of the Conciliar document Gaudium et spec: "In earlier documents," he points out, "there was a great insistence on the moral law as the antidote to any tendency to licence. Now the emphasis is on conscience — the most secret core and sanctuary of the human person where one hears the call of God's voice. The shift from the role of law which is traditionally called the objective norm of morality to conscience which is called the subjective norm of human action is most significant in showing the move to the subject and to the person."
Two Candy generations
f USED to have occasion, some years ago, to visit Billinghurst in Sussex and notice that it was just 30 years since Fr Gerard Candy became its parish priest.
Through the kindness of a parishioner I have just heard a story which should bring pleasure to Fr "Joe" Candy during his well earned retirement.
After serving throughout the war with the Free Polish Army, a certain Victor Walzac settled in Billingshurst where he married a local girl, Yvonne. They had two children, Annette born in 1954 and Colin in 1956. (Yvonne herself was born in the house where she still lives).
In the 1950s the church in Billingshurst was a but with a tin roof. Fr Gerard Candy, as just mentioned was appointed in 1956. Victor Walzac would walk three miles to Mass through the snow. When Fr Candy expressed his admiration Victor would tell him that snow, only inches deep, was nothing compared to Poland where they had to dig their way to Mass through snow which was several feet deep.
The first child to be baptised by Fr Candy in Billingshurst was Colin Wolzac, on August 12 1956. When Colin was five years old Fr Candy laid the foundation stone of St Gabriel's Church. (The building was completed in 1962.) Fr Candy prayed that, one day, he might see a member of his parish ordained to the priesthood.
When Annette was nine, and Cohn seven their father died. Yvonne, not at that time a Catholic, had promised her husband that she would bring the children up in the Catholic faith. Shortly afterwards she was received into the Church by Fr Candy.
Colin pursued a career in stage craft becoming stage manager at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. On occasions Fr Candy would accompany Mrs Walzac to first night performances in the theatre.
At the age of 24 Colin applied to be trained for the priesthood and studied for five years at St John's, Wonersh. On June 28, 1986, he was ordained to the Deaconate by Bishop Cormac Murphy O'Connor.
Owing to ill health Fr Candy was forced to retire in 1984, and his place was taken by Fr Gordon Simmons.
In September Colin will be attached to a parish in Worthing where he will serve for one year.
His family and friends, and most of all Fr Candy, now look forward to the day, in 1987, when they hope to be present in St Gabriel's for Colin's ordination, probably the first in Billingshurst since before the Reformation.
Under both kinds
I WAS asked by my parish priest in Gloucestershire to be one of his special ministers to help in the distribution of Holy Communion for those wishing to communicate under both kinds in accordance with a recent directive from on high.
In many churches, I have noticed, the directive has been responded to with enthusiasm. Some people, however, are reluctant to follow the directive, chiefly, no doubt, through conservatism, not perhaps realising that this was the original and normal way of receiving Holy Communion. (Some have even been heard to mention fear of getting AIDS by drinking from the chalice.) At one time, it must be admitted the laity rarely received communion under either species. Later, reception under both kinds was looked upon as somehow "Protestant" and therefore anathema to most English Catholics.
Freedom of choice is now the watchword, apart from the abiding Catholic aversion of receiving communion from anyone but a priest, a sign of the well-known sub-consicous feeling that he is somehow a purveyor of spiritual "magic".
I notice that Harold Winstone wrote in his CTS pamphlet "Communion under Both Kinds," that "If, we think of Communion as our response to God's invitation to go to the Lord's table and to partake with joy of that banquet which celebrates the Covenant of Christ's sacrificed, self-giving love, then we will want not only to eat but to drink as well; that is to receive under both kinds. There can be no doubt that this is what Jesus intended,"
Catholic days of yore
A CONTRAST in anthologies.
Paul Johnson has compiled, with the aid of his own considerable learning, an excellent collection of Political Anecdotes published by the Oxford University Press.
Some, but few, of the anecdotes assembled by Johnson are well known. They take us through British history from the sixteenth century to the present day.
About to be published, meanwhile, by Robson Books, is a slim volume called Pontius the Pilot, a compilation by Richard Huggett of "The best of Catholic jokes, wit, and humour."
Hugget is a talented and original — not to say pleasantly eccentric — figure. He is, of course, an excellent actor and author of some masterly plays.
Some of the jokes are so old and well-known that they may (or may not) amaze or amuse the young. For the older generation, there are few surprises, but they will act as a reminder, which some might welcome, of the hothouse Catholic days of yore.
A dazzling life
IT IS sad to hear that the great Bishop Christopher Butler OSB, pictured below, is seriously ill at the age of 84.
How well he held the fort at Westminster as Vicar Capitular during the difficult and rather long interregnum "before the appointment of his fellow Benedictine, Abbot Humen, as Archbishop in 1976.
When his obituary comes to be written, which I hope will not be for a long time, it may come as a surprise to some to find that someone of his generation and position has long been a firmly committed — unilaterateralist in the field of nuclear strategy.
But that of course is far from being his only claim to fame during a long, varied • and dazzlingly distinguished life.