MORE than ten years ago, I started writing this diary for the CATHOLIC' FIFRALD. This will be my last instalment — at least from Rome.
With my wife and I3-yearold son David, I am leaving next month to live, an expatriate New Zealander, in Sydney.
As so many of my friends know, we have contemplated this for some time but. reluctant to go after becoming so thor oughly "Europeanised" down the years, we kept putting it off. Now family reasons —mainly my son's future— make the move inevitable.
There is. however, still to be an occasional corner for me in this newspaper. I am delighted. I have liked writing for the CATHOLIC FIFA AL D. I have liked the people who run it. Above all, it has been worthwhile and, thank God, it has been fun.
Through it. I have made many friends. If I were to list them all, it would sound like name-dropping in excelsis.
BLit I must record my lasting gratitude to Cardinal Heenan for his unfailing help and good fellowship from those often bewildering Vatican Council days, through the Synods, down to the present.
I retain several handwritten memos from him, marked "for your guidance" 'and excellent guidance it was) and prepared for me, at my request, when he was incredibly busy.
have been in Rome under three Popes—Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI. 1 have had the privilege of meeting both Pope John and Pope Paul.
I have been through the drama of the death of Pope Pius. the election, coronation and death of beloved Pope John, and the unforgettable splendour in that unforgettable setting of the open-air coronation in St. Peter's Square of our present Holy Father.
I have shared in the superb experience of feeling the "closed shop" Vatican suddenly take on a warm, human quality when Pope John moved in; of feeling, too, the whole world beyond it respond in a rare, spontaneous universal burst of good will, to the simplicity, the holiness, the earthy good humour, the steadfastness and the sheer love of his fellow-men radiated by the old man.
Passed off at first as an "interim Pope," by the end of his brief four-and-a-half year pontificate, he had given fresh meaning and , prestige to the papacy, revitalised the Church and inspired all Christianity.
"Whenever I come to the Vatican these days, I feel that Pope John is about to pop in," I said to Brother Bernard Welsh in the Maestro di Camera's office soon after the new Pope's election. "Well, it's happened," said the amiable Irishman, "and it will happen
again. Just stay around . ."
MY 14 years in Rome have covered, in addition to the Council and the Synods, the explosive controversies over birth control and clerical celibacy; the historical ecumenical meetings between Pope John and the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey (now Lord) Fisher, and Pope Paul and Archbishop Michael Ramsey; the visit of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Archibald Craig, to Pope John; numerous other ecumenical confrontations, and the Queen's meeting with Pope John.
I have been here for the liturgical revisions and so many other changes made by Pope Paul. I was in the Vatican on that memorable, speculation-filled day when Pope John received Kruschev's sonin-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Alexis Adjhubei, setting the self-appointed watchdogs about the place barking, "The Pope's turning Left."
One of my biggest moments in Rome was my recent meeting with Mother Teresa. I shall not forget the hospitality of Mgr. Gerard (now Bishop) Tickle and other rectors and their assistants at the venerable English College, or that of the heads of other colleges.
I shall always remember my first meeting with the late Mgr. Hugh O'Flaherty (Rome's wartime "Pimpernel") -when he was an official at the Holy Office. "Don't be afraid," he said, as he led me into the courtyard. "This was once the the Evangelisation of Peoples; Inquisition, but we only keep the records now." courtyard. "This was once the the Evangelisation of Peoples;
Dominicans; Fr. Casper Caulfield, who Curia's famous garden. ("We don't let women into it. A woman spoiled the first garden of Eden and we are taking no T-iks British s I s-.h.a)
Inquisition, but we only keep the records now."
tant General of the Dominiintroduced me to the Passionist the Sacred Congregation for Fr. Vincent Ryan, 0.P.; Fr. Hilary Carpenter, 0.P., AssisI shall remember that splendid personality, Archbishop Sergio Pignedoli, Secretary of II remember the present Minister to the Holy See, Mr. Desmond Crawley, his charming wife, and his predecessors—Cdr. Frank and Donna Orietta Doria Pamphili; Columban Father Terence O'Driscoll . . . all these and so many more I have cause to thank and to remember.
Passing over in a few lines great events and splendid People is almost sacrilege, but while the CATHOLIC HERALD has always granted me unlimited encouragement it has never granted me unlimited space.
Among things I will have no regrets about leaving behind in Rome are the lunatic noisemakers, the traffic chaos, bureaucratic idiocy, rudeness in shops, chronic lack of small change and some of the dullest television programmes ever devised (beware State monopolies). , During my time here I have contributed my share to campaigns to have set up in the Vatican something approaching an effective public relations medium; to inject some "outgoing" into an organisation that for generations has been chronically allergic to robust communications.
Just recently, the best move ever made on this front came with the appointment of the Holy Cross Father Edward Heston (he will be Archbishop Heston soon, I hear) as president of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications. He is the man for the job, and we all wish him well.
I was lcd into the CATHOLIC HERALD by Desmond Fisher when he was editor. Came Desmond Albrow. And now Gerard Noel. All good colleagues to whom I owe much.
To them, to all I have mentioned and have not mentioned, to all readers (including the priest who once wrote: "You do not always have much to say, but I like the way you say it") — all blessings always. Arrivederci.