By OTTO HERSCHAN, Managing Director of The Catholic Herald DESMOND ALBROW, who was Editor of the Catholic Herald from 1966-1971, died last week aged 72. His appointment as Editor came at a very appropriate time. Desmond came to the Catholic Herald from the Sunday Telegraph, which he had helped to launch. Vatican II had just taken place, and he had no experience of religious journalism, and therefore no preconceived views on the reforms of the Council. Lace Paul VI, he believed it was a time for reflection on the decisions of the Council to allow them to evolve.
Desmond was wrong in one respect. As a true Yorkshireman he could not envisage peace in the liturgy being demonstrated by the shaking of hands. The English, he said, rarely
shake hands, it is a continental custom!
Although Desmond did not campaign for or against any particular changes in the Church, he did not avoid decisions when they had to be made, as was the case when Humane Vitae was published. At that time, to say the least, it was still unusual for a Catholic paper to be critical of the Vatican, still more a Papal Encyclical. He deliberated deeply and in consultation with me, published a Leader headlined "Not the Last Word." A phrase subsequently used by Cardinal Heenan. The latter had the advantage of saying it some two weeks later than the Catholic Heraldand being a Prince of the Church. Desmond, if I recall correctly, had three days before publication, and he was a layman. He foresaw the hostile reaction his Leader would cause, but he was prepared to face the music, and ultimately gain the respect even of those who were critical.
Cricket was Desmond's game, and like a perfect wicket-keeper, he was ready for the best Freddie Truman-like bowling ofhis critics. However fast the bowling, he was ready behind the stumps of the Catholic Herald. Desmond
Albrow wielded his pen with skill; the typewriter was acceptable, I doubt that computers would have been.
During his editorship he wrote a weekly column in the Catholic Herald. It was frequently amusing, always charitable, yet he never avoided being critical. On one occasion his criticism was directed at Cardinal Heenan. The Cardinal not only accepted his reprimand, but as he considered it just, graciously issued an apology as a result of it.
Desmond missed the politics and politicians of the Sunday Telegraph, and decided to return to it as Features Editor in 1971. His professionalism, his ability, his leadership as Editor was greatly missed when he departed, although he continued to write for the Catholic Herald as recently as last week, just before he died. That piece appears below.
Everyone at the Catholic Herald will miss his advice and help, always constructive even in occasional gentle disagreement. Our love and sympathy go to Aileen, his wife of almost 48 years, and their four children.
Farewells are sad, but none are more so than in the case of colleague and old friend let it be au revoir, and meanwhile Desmond, rest in peace.