A NEW publishing company has been founded and its first title was launched in spectacular circumstances at Chelsea Old Town Hall just before Easter. The publishing house in question is the Sir Thomas More Press and the book is entitled The Pope and Britain.
The author, John Norton, is also a very considerable artist and his brilliant drawings profusely illustrate his history of Britain's connection with the Papacy from earliest times until the visit of Pope John Paul H.
It carries a scholarly text and the book itself is a work of art selling at only £15 (there being a special limited and signed de luxe edition retailing at £35.) The distributors are Messrs Powler Wright of Leominster, Herts.
The author met the Pope in December, 1981 and presented him with a signed facsimile edition of his drawings of him. One of these forms the frontispiece of his present work, but copies of it are obtainable separately at £2 each.
The book is designed as a commemoration of the papal visit of 1982 and is far more ambitious and decorative in its scope than any of the books that appeared within a short time of the visit itself, however excellent some of these were.
It is not only a scholarly work but it is also eminently practical. Apart from containing a concise history of British relations with the papacy, there are royal genealogical tables, lists of pontiffs, archbishops of Canterbury, maps and an invaluable guide to cathedrals and abbeys. There is even a railway map to facilitate seeing at a glance how one may get to or near the many places of interest mentioned in the book.
It was Carlyle who said: "Often have I found a portrait superior in real instruction to half a dozen biographies." The words come to mind when glancing at the many line drawings of some of the personalities connected in one way or another, some rather indirectly, with the visit of Pope John Paul.
One of them portrays Archbishop Winning of Glasgow, a most likeable prelate. He was one of the men most determined that the Falklands War would not cause the cancellation of the papal visit. When he was in Rome, just before the Papal Mass for Peace, he was approached by one of the Argentine Cardinals, Juan Carlos Aramburu.
"Are you Winning?" the 'cardinal asked. To this the Scottish Archbishop replied, "Right now I'm not entirely sure."
The Sir Thomas More press can be justly proud of its first publication. It has proved to be quite an event, as well, hopefully, as an auspicious one. For the new house will remain small but states that "we shall encourage serious artists towards a revival of quality in calligraphy, printing and binding plus good illustration and design. We shall aim to manifest the truism that 'small is beautiful' and that the best can still be obtained in London at reasonable prices."
Their cause is "antimediocrity," in which crusade they send out the message: "We welcome ideas, friends and champions."
THE "Friends of the Venerabile" and others have been invited to Archbishop's House, Westminster this evening to watch a video on the English College in Rome. The President of the Friends is that most popular of bishops (and a distinguished former Rector of the Venerabile) Bishop Murphy O'Connor, who introduces the video. The narrator is the late Bishop Agnellus Andrew.
The video has already been seen by some and is of great interest, the Venerable English College being the oldest English institution in Europe. It dates back to the times of the Plantagenets.
Among the hundreds of men trained there for the priesthood, 44 were martyred for their faith. The video covers in technically brilliant fashion the long and intensely dramatic history of this unique college. It also portrays present day life as the students, in freer fashion than before the Council, go about their prayers,' studies and recreations.
Several of the students explain how they came to be candidates for the priesthood. They talk frankly about celibacy and how they see their future services in the parishes of England and Wales.
The Venerabile owns an historic villa on Lake Albano, opposite the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. It is beautifully situated and is put to full use as a place of retreat and recollection.
The video includes some expert filming inside the villa as well as in its gardens. Mgr Philip Holroyd talks about the Villa Palazzola, as it is called, and the uses to which it is put all the year round — in the summer, for example, as a retreat centre and for family holidays.
The video should prove of great value to schools and colleges in England as it well exemplifies one student's verdict on the Venerabile as affording "every day a very vivid experience of the university of the church." Anyone interested should contact the Friends' Secretary, Mr R A Hood, 33 Wilfred Street, London SW1.
Man in a million
IS there any danger of a return in some form of "Josephinism" to Austria?
Josephinism, it may be remembered — taking its name from the eighteenth century Austrian and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II — was that system whereby the Church, under the protection of the state, could act with independence, even, if necessary, from Rome where occasion might demand it.
Recent appointments by Rome of vacant sees in Austria, without any proper consultation, have caused anger and dismay in Austria. Among the most notable examples are those of Archbishop Groer of Vienna and one of his auxiliaries, Bishop Krenn.
So unpopular was the latter's appointment that 17 out of Vienna's 20 Deans wrote to the new auxiliary asking him to give up his appointment. There is even talk of schism.
The person responsible for these ultra-conservative appointments is thought to be the Curial Cardinal Stickler the Austrian Papal Librarian who is known to have advised the Pope and is himself of extreme "rightwing" views in Church matters.
Meanwhile a breath of Austrian fresh air comes from the large, principally working class town of Wiener Neustadt, where a most splendid retired Archbishop (of Styria from 1964 to 1968) has spoken out boldly at the age of 86. He reminds one in some way of (perhaps now largely forgotten) Archbishop Thomas Roberts, the outspoken Jesuit.
Archbishop Josef Shoiswohl is obviously fed up with the way bishops are being appointed and also with a lot of other things. His words carry weight as he is a greatly revered and widely respected man.
He believes that each diocese should have a special synod to supervise the properly organised and visibly consultative selection of the next bishop. Names he suggests, could be put up every few years so that a ready-made list will be available when the time comes.
The venerable Archbishop, whose views have been making headlines, also believes that the Church at present is far too heavily centralised. He feels that the great areas of the world (eg North America, Latin America, Asia, etc.,) should have Patriarchs with wide powers who would consult regularly with the Pope and keep him reliably informed of developments within their areas.
In the parish church of the Archbishop-turned-parish priest, attractive young men and women greet members of the congregation and visitors to show them to their seats and offer, any help that may be needed.
The Archbishop is immensely popular and is, indeed, a man in a million.
Philosophy's landmark THE great Fr Frederick Copleston will soon be 80 and a celebratory lecture and reception will be held in his honour on May I at Heythrop College.
Even that renowed bon viveur and atheist philosopher, Professor A J (Freddy) Ayer was loudly singing Fr Copleston's praises when I was last talking to him.
Fr Copleston is of the old school in the perfection of his manners and gracefulness with which he carries his immense erudition. He is the author, among others works, of the magistral nine-volume A History of Philosophy, and was for some time principal of Heythrop College.
He presently holds the title of Emeritus Professor of the History of Philosophy in the University of London.
To mark his birthday and to honour his contribution to the teaching and understanding of philosophy throughout the world, Search Press will be publishing The Philosophical Assessment of Theology with contributions from ten scholars whose area of work has been. close to that of the Professor.
Congratulations to Fr Copleston. Ad multos annos.