AS ARCHBISHOP Heim leaves his Wimbledon base for the last time, speculation mounts as to the identity of his most probable successor.
Some weeks ago I tipped Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, currently Pro-Nuncio in Australia. Others favour Archbishop William Carew, an old friend of mine whom 1 much admire.
I first met him when he headed the English-speaking section of the Secretariat of State in Rome and would often act as sort of unofficial master of ceremonies during private audiences with the Pope.
He did this when, with my wife, I presented a specially bound copy to Pope Paul VI of my translation of the first of the series of volumes to be published revealing, through official documents, the diplomatic activities of the I loly See during the second World War.
Paul VI had ordered the premature disclosure of these documents from the Secret Archives of the Vatican in order to give chapter and verse for the peace-making proposals and other efforts of Pius XII, as seen through the welter of telegrams, notes to Nuncios, their replies, the transcripts of interviews between the Pope and the Ambassadors of concerned nations, and much else besides.
With four languages involved, the task of translation was somewhat daunting but it brought me into valued contact with one of the officials working at the Vatican archives, Mgr Charles Burns, who is still in Rome and indeed one of its bestknown and most popular characters.
The same description applied to Mgr Carew while he was at the Secretariat and people spoke of him as a possible candidate one day for the Papacy itself. He is a charming Canadian who knew and was known by all in Rome, his many friends there being disappointed when, in the early seventies, he departed to become Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem.
I met him there on several extremely pleasant occasions. He was always a convivial host in the beautifully cool rooms of the Delegation high up in the hills of East Jerusalem. But
when 1 last saw him there, he was itching for a change after ten gruelling years.
His baptism of fire had consisted in being a go-between in the delicate negotiations between the Holy See and Israel whereby Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, convicted of gunrunning on behalf of the PLO was released from prison by the Israeli authorities.
Capucci was allowed to leave the country at the request of the Pope on the undertaking that he would never again engage in political or other activities in the Middle East. That the sequel to this act of clemency was not entirely happy was no fault of Archbishop Carew who. in August 1983, became Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Japan.
He is one of the great churchmen of our day, with the added bonus of a delightful personality. To expect him to come to London later this year may well be too much to hope for after only two years in Tokyo. But at 63, it is clear that bigger and more important posts still lie ahead for this gentle giant from Newfoundland.
A gallery of friends
MARY BROKE Freeman has an assured place in the world of English art not only because of her own paintings, but also by virtue of the fact that in 1947 she started the idea which became the "Friends of the Tate Gallery," with a cheque for £1,000.
This followed a series of letters in The Times about the poor support by the Government at that time for the art of painting compared with other European countries.
Tomorrow, Mary Freeman will be providing coffee and tea at her home in Harwell, Berkshire, where friends will view her collection of paintings by many of Britain's finest artists, several of whom arc her personal friends.
The event comes under the auspices of the Society of Catholic Artists (46 Waterlow Rd., London. Tel: 01-272 5484) which is responsible for many interesting occasions during the course of each year.
It so happens that Harwell is this year celebrating its
millenium, since the Saxon King, Ethelbert, gave it its charter in 985. It is an attractive village which happens to lie near the Catholic "enclave" of East Hendred hard to reach without getting entangled with the sprawling Atomic Research Establishment which rather dominates this particular area.
East Hendred has a church whose proudest possession is an early fourteenth century wooden lectern of unique two-tiered design. There is alp a Perpendicular wayside chapel with priest's house attached.
Hendred House, nearby, the seat of the Eyston family, contains relics of Sts John Fisher and Thomas More and a private chapel to which admission may be gained on application where Mass has been said without a break since 1291. The sanctuary lamp has burned continually during all those years.
The kindly chameleon
I WAS SAD to hear of the death the week before last of Fr Anthony Vincent Owen who was a great character in his day and a man of diverse and unusual talents. His greatest personal victory in life was to meet, headon, the competitive challenges of his youth while developing into so mild mannered a person as the years went on.
He was ordained from Oscon in 1943 and when he went from there to Cambridge he became a rugby blue which is, if not a unique, certainly a rare accomplishment for a Catholic priest undergraduate.
He then taught for a while at Ampleforth before returning to his original school, Cotton College, to teach mathematics and science for the nest 22 years. Cotton college is possibly the oldest Catholic school in England, though its foundation, by Bishop Challoner, came very near to that of St Edmunds (also by Bishop Challoner).
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Cotton, near Stoke-onTrent, is the oldest Catholic school to have provided continuous secondary education, which it has dente since 1763.
It once combined the objectives of a junior seminary with being an ordinary school for lay pupils, its most famous ecclesiastical product, perhaps, being Cardinal Griffin.
As to present members of the Hierarchy, Bishop Holland of Salford and Bishop McCartie, Auxiliary of Birmingham, are among its distinguished old boys.
Fr Owen was also an accomplished musician, playing the piano, organ and violin as well as delighting all with his fine tenor voice. Not unnaturally he became choirmaster of an exceptionally well-trained school choir.
He went on to be parish priest at St Joseph's in Darlaston, where he built a modern church ingeniously embracing in its design the atmosphere of the industrial surroundings of that part of the West Midlands.
It was tragic that he should have become, at 66, a cancer victim, and have died so young. R 1 P.
FIVE YEARS ago today, Roy Castle's son Daniel had a serious accident. For the uninitiated few, Roy is a versatile artiste who has been in show business for over 30 years, as straight actor, instrumentalist, singer, dancer and presenter of television programmes.
On August 23, 1980, he and his whole family arrived on the Isle of Man for the start of Roy's three week season at the Gaiety Theatre, His 15 year old son Daniel went off to explore the coast and fell 30 feet onto some rocks where he lay unconscious.
The only route to the hospital at Douglas was by lifeboat, over choppy seas, and subsequently by car for 11 miles. His audience that night did not know of the accident and asked him to play Danny Boy in the course of his performance. "It was difficult," he said, "but 1 think I played it better than ever."
Next day, the Castles' parish priest flew across to the island and together with the family prayed at the hospital bedside.
That was the start of Daniel's slow recovery to full health following intensive care during which, even if he lived, paralysis or permanent brain damage had been feared.
According to Mary Batchelor, in her 1982 (Lion's) Everyday Book, Roy afterwards commented "I can't imagine what it must be like to go through that kind of experience without the strength that comes from being a Christian." It takes a showman not to be too self-conscious to express such thoughts out loud.
I mention the story because I hope soon to be meeting Roy at Bible House (headquarters of 'the Bible Society) for the launching of a somewhat revolutionary new product, consisting of DIY cartoon packs, each including a one hour cassette of Roy Castle retelling the Bible stories in question in his own inimitable fashion.
This represents yet another coup for the amazing Bible Society who have just put out a challenge which could result in £2.3 million being made available for Bible work in other countries.
Their executive director, Richard Worthing-Davies, has in fact announced that this sum has already been pledged to the United Bible Societies. 1 am told that the increase of 30.7 per cent over the initial pledge for 1985 has been made possible in part by the Society's moving its headquarters to Swindon in the autumn.