CONGRATULATIONS from all sides have been speeding in to Mgr. Derek Worlock since the announcement of his appointment as Bishop of Portsmouth. Those from the hierarchy of England and Wales, into which he now enters and for which he has been secretary since the Ecumenical Council began have naturally been particularly warm and personal, but his goodwill circle extends well beyond the bishops.
Correspondents like myself have long appreciated his calmly efficient organising ability. the quiet, clear way in which he tackles queries, and his unfailing willingness to help at all times.
In this column, I have frequently expressed my own deep gratitude to him for his innumerable kindnesses during successive Council sessions. I do so again now that episcopal honour has fallen upon him, and I speak for dozens of th,e Englishspeaking correspondents here in Rome in wishing him well.
As for the Bishop-Elect himself, his happiness at going to Portsmouth is tinged with regret that his term as parish priest of St. Mary and St. Michael, Commercial Road, East London, should come to an end only about 18 months after he took up his appointment there.
Among messages he has received are many from Commercial Road parishioners, including groups of children, congratulating him, but also saying how sad they are he cannot remain with them at least a little longer. He has only recently been getting a real grip on the many activities he inaugurated in his challenging East End parish and he says, somewhat wistfully: "That's how 1 feel, too."
Back seat for Cardinal
rARD1NAL HEENAN, in ILA his unobtrusive black soutane, decided to drop in quietly the other afternoon to see how the American Panel, that group of specialists who guide journalists daily after each general congregation of the Council, goes about its extremely useful work.
He took a seat in a back row and wasn't exposed until the experts got round to discussing whether there might be any prospect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity (of which the Cardinal is Vice-Presidentl and the Secretariate for non-Christians merg!ng some time. At this stage an American correspondent spotted Cardinal Heenan and suggested to a stir prised panel chairman that perhaps His Eminence might like to give his view.
There was much craning of necks as Cardinal Heenan rose and reluctantly revealed himself. He was only there as an observer. he emphasised, but on the question of the suggested merger of the two secretariats he could say only this: Next week he had been summoned to attend a meeting of both of them — on precisely the Same day and at precisely the same hour . . .
TV cameras at San Silvestro
MR. MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE no less, is over here making the Rome section of a B.B.C. television documentary on Cardinal Heenan. The Cardinal is being shown in the Ecumenical Council setting, and has teen interviewed at the English College, where he lives while in Rome.
On Mission Sunday, the BBC team turned its full battery, in-' chiding Mr. Muggeridge and Fr. Agnellus Andrew, upon San Silvestro in Capite. the "English" church in Rome.
This is Cardinal Heenan's titular church.
The venerable and ornate building was completely restored only a year or two ago and it looked .magnificent in the full glare of television floodlights while the cameras recorded Cardinal Heenan saying 'Mass and preaching.
In his sermon. the Cardinal described San Silvestro as his "cathedral" in Rome. It might not hold the crowds that West minster Cathedral did, he added --as it was, it was packed—but to him thc people here were just as dear. During Mass, Cardinal Heenan was assisted at the altar by his secretary Fr. J. Burke, and the Rector of San Silvestro, Pallotine Fr, Vincent Smith. He was surrounded by people as he left the church and in the afternoon when he returned to be interviewed there by Mr. Muggeridge on the Council, recent liturgical reforms and the Church in general.
In the interim, the Cardinal had lunch with the Servites of Mary in their generalate at the Church of San Marcello, on the Corso nearby, where the only Englishman is the learned and gentle Fr. Hilaire Morris. The Servites have a parish in Westminster Archdiocese.
Cardinal Heenan is to say Mass again at San Silvestro on Remembrance Day. November 11, when the preacher will be Bishop Gerard Tickle, Bishop in Ordinary to the Forces and former Rector of the English College. A plan under which English
Bishops will explain various aspects of the Council to San Silvestro parishioners was inaugurated last Sunday by Bishop Restieaux of Plymouth, who said Mass and preached. He is to be followed next Sunday by Bishop Grasar of Shrewsbury and then by Bishop Holland of Salford.
Topline writer from Australia
MY FRIEND MORRIS WEST writes from his home in Sydney that he will be in Rome, with his wife and children, from about the middle of this month and will be staying for about a year. This is good news. I-le loves Rome, hut in the past, between writing best-sellers, he has done little more than drop in and depart.
Now he will be right on the spot while the film version of his big hit, The Shoes of the Fisherman, is being made, much of it in and around the Vatican.
West has remained completely unspoiled by his phenomenal success, which started only a few years ago with his The Devil's Advocate. that astonishingly mature and moving hook with which he followed his first effort, Children of the .Sun, a more or less straight piece of reportage on the work of Fr. Borelli among the "scugnizzi" of Naples.
West is a devoted family man, a great friend, a keen, objective observer and a topline writer, It will be a pleasure to have him around.
Preaching at funerals
MANY PEOPLE come to church only for funerals, and priests should make the most of this "excellent opportunity" to preach the Word of God to them, Bishop Joachim Segedi, Auxiliary to the Apos-toile Administrator of Krizevci, Jugoslavia, suggested during a Council discussion on the Priestly I,ife and Ministry.
The late Mgr. Ronald Knox, I understand, considered from seven to 10 minutes an ideal length for one of his celebrated sermons at weddings. I wonder what Bishop Segedi would consider the ideal length for a sermon by a preacher at a funeral, addressing irregular churchgoers "trapped" before him and seized with the realisation that, as he mightn't see them again for a long time. he'd better make the most of his "excellent op porton i ty". Keep'ng in mind too, one hopes, the strain those bereaved up front were already suffering.