MOST VIEWERS have a deep rooted suspicion of television programmes or films which they are told they really must see. With a canny wariness moulded by bitter experience they know they are likely to be harrowed or bored stiff.
These perfectly healthy prejudices should be firmly put aside on Tuesday at 10.30 pm when ITV broadcasts its masterly profile of Cardinal Hume. "Basil Hume OSB" falls into that strange and small category of programme which should be seen because the subject matter is important, the production is well handled and on top of all that the final product is enjoyable.
The first half of the programme follows the Cardinal's life from childhood and Ampleforth to the summons of Westminster. The second half concentrates on his work within his own archdiocese, his country and the Church.
At the time of the first preview there was a flurry of excitement in the secular papers because of the Cardinal's rather obvious statement that celibacy involved the painful loss of the loving support and companionship of a He was quite unequivocal about his own belief in the positive value of celibacy and succinctly explained the freedom rather than the limitations which it entails.
' It was a pity that this was picked out to overshadow the more significant insights into church unity —"It could happen more quickly than we expect: we could be surprised" — and the role of Cardinal — "There is a danger of talking too much and people ceasing to listen."
This profile, which the Cardinal was originally very unwilling to consider, offers valuable food for thought. It will certainly explain the motive of Catholicism more successfully than abstract offerings from the God slot. It is also an admirable illustration of how the local church and universal Church are inextricably intertwined and of how prayer is the necessary basis for, not contradiction of, action.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of the programme was something which was never said but just assumed throughout. The documentary is not aimed at a freakish minority. It shows a Church which is confident and outward looking whose Cardinal has the respect of Christians and non-Christians as a religious leader within his own country.
Finally, on an unashamedly partisan mite, friends of the Catholic Herald will be able to see how John Ryan master minded the Ampleforth concert party in which one of the "two little girls from school" was G. Hume and will be able to hear Charterhouse's deliberations on Ampleforth and Archbishop's House.