The Catholic Herald

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The Catholic Herald
Type Magazine
Owner(s) Sir Rocco Forte , Lord Black of Crossharbour and Peter Sheppard
Editor Luke Coppen
Founded 1888
Headquarters Herald House, Lambs Passage, Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8TQ
Circulation 23,000

The Catholic Herald is a London-based Roman Catholic magazine, published in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It reports a total circulation of about 21,000 copies distributed to Roman Catholic parishes, wholesale outlets and postal subscribers.


The Catholic Herald was established as a newspaper in 1888 by Derry-born Charles Diamond, who owned and edited the paper until his death in 1934. Diamond was an outspoken and controversial figure, described by one of his successors as "the kind of a man who made a good many enemies". On 8 January 1920 he was arrested and charged with publication of an article that allegedly encouraged assassination in Ireland.[citation needed] Diamond died on 19 February 1934. After his death the paper was bought by Ernest Vernor Miles, a recent convert to Roman Catholicism and head of the New Catholic Herald Ltd. Miles appointed Count Michael de la Bédoyère as editor. De la Bédoyère's news editor was writer Douglas Hyde (not to be mistaken for the Irish politician), also a convert who arrived from the Communist Daily Worker.[1]

While Diamond's newspaper was a London-based Irish political paper, the new version was explicitly British and aimed at growing numbers of English converts who did not necessarily have roots in Ireland.[citation needed] In fact, in the months leading up to his death, Diamond had planned the re-launch, helped by Father Bede Jarrett, OP, who advised Diamond to modify the paper. Father Jarrett died three months before Diamond.[citation needed]

De la Bédoyère was an enthusiastic campaigner for many of the changes that came about with Vatican II,[citation needed] the year he retired from the newspaper, especially the Mass said in the vernacular. De la Bedoyere was also an enthusiastic supporter of ecumenism and used his editorship to warn of the dangers of Soviet Russia after it became an ally in World War II. He almost went to prison for criticising what he saw as Churchill's appeasement of the "godless" Soviet Union.[2] Sir Desmond Morton, Winston Churchill's personal assistant, admitted that the Prime Minister had wanted to close down The Catholic Herald.[citation needed]

In 1958, The Herald went to press with the news that Pope Pius XII had died, having actually to gone to press while the Pontiff was still alive. By the following morning, he had died, so The Herald carried the story while none of the nationals did.[citation needed] In December 2014 the Herald became a magazine, with a revamped website covering breaking news.

2002 Philip Pullman interview[edit]

In a November 2002 interview Philip Pullman was asked "What's your response to the reactions of the religious right to your work? The Catholic Herald called your books the stuff of nightmares and worthy of the bonfire." He replied: "My response to that was to ask the publishers to print it in the next book, which they did! I think it's comical, it's just laughable."[3] However, though widely reported, the Herald made no call for the book to be burned.[4] Catholic writer Leonie Caldecott was defending J. K. Rowling from Christian parents calling for the South Carolina Board of Education to ban her best-selling books; Caldecott joked that there were better things for fundamentalists to burn (it was around Guy Fawkes Night).[4]

"The Controversy over Harry Potter is still brewing in the USA. Parents in South Carolina are pressing their Board of Education to ban the best-selling children's stories. "The books have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil", said one mother, in her deposition to the board. No doubt the books are attracting attention precisely on account of their success: they have sold 30 million worldwide. But if one was going to start banning books, there are numerous candidates that seem to me to be far more worthy of the bonfire than Harry. The children's market is glutted with tomes a million times more sinister. This is particularly true in the area of fantasy fiction, which appeals to children as they approach their teens. One such is the trilogy by Philip Pullman, entitled His Dark Materials."

On 1 February 2002 The Catholic Herald reprinted the entire article to address the continued propagation of the idea that the publication had called for the books to be burnt and in response to a segment on BBC's Big Read in which "Benedict Allen in his approbation of His Dark Materials repeated the old chestnut that The Catholic Herald had recommended Pullman's books be burned". In one of two additional articles on the controversy Caldecott stated:

"In October 1999, tying to defend JK Rowling against the charge that her books were too frightening for children, I noted that other books, such as Pullman's, were far more deserving of critical scrutiny from Christian parents, since their themes — that parents are the enemy, that God is a fraud, and that there is no heaven beyond the gentle expiration of atomic particles — were the true stuff of nightmares for children. It being close to bonfire night (when anti-Catholic sensibilities are often in full voice, after all), I joked that fundamentalist campaigners against Rowling could find things far more worthy of the bonfire than Harry Potter.

Needless to say, I am neither a fundamentalist nor a book-burner, having been attacked myself by the former, and finding the latter

notion ridiculous. But it seems that Pullman needed a paper tiger to fuel his publicity machine. My article was seized upon, and has been continuously misquoted ever since the third, and most anti-Christian, volume in the trilogy was published."[5][6]

In her rebuttal, Caldecott states that "the tactics of the author and his supporters have not been exactly honourable" and goes on to joke that "Since no clergymen have [publicly denounced Pullman and his book] the millionaire author has had to make do with an Oxfordshire housewife".

Present day[edit]

In 2004 The Catholic Herald was featured in a newspaper round-up at the end of "The Big Report" episode of the parodic news show The Day Today. Chris Morris shows a spoof copy of the paper with a Gothic masthead and the headline: "Eating Turkey at Christmas Is Like Nailing An Egg To The Cross".[7]

The online version of the magazine includes articles from the print edition of The Catholic Herald, as well as web-only content, such as the coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s April 2008 trip to the United States. The site was revamped in November 2013. The magazine is currently owned by Sir Rocco Forte and Lord Black of Crossharbour, the latter a convert to Catholicism.


Its editors have included:

  • Charles Diamond (1888–1934)
  • Ernest Vernor Miles (1934)
  • Michael de la Bédoyère (1934–1962)
  • Desmond Fisher (1962–1966)
  • Desmond Albrow (1966–1967)
  • Gerald Noel (1971–1974, 1982–1983)
  • Stuart Reid (1975)
  • Richard Dowden (1976–1979)
  • Terence Sheehy (1983–1988)
  • Peter Stanford (1988–1992)
  • Cristina Odone (1992–1996)
  • Deborah Jones (1996–1998)
  • William Oddie (1998–2004)
  • Luke Coppen (2004- )


Contemporary contributors[edit]

Past contributors[edit]

Past cartoonists[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Kevin Morgan. "Obituary: Douglas Hyde", The Independent (London), 29 September 1996
  2. ^ Stephen Bates "Herald of change", The Guardian, 2 August 2004. Retrieved on 29 March 2009.
  3. ^ "Interview with Philip Pullman". Surefish. November 2002. 
  4. ^ a b Leonie Caldecott (29 October 1999). "The stuff of nightmares". Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Sarah Johnson (26 December 2003). "A preachy rant against the Church". Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Leonie Caldecott. "The Big Read and the big lie". Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Day Today". Film @ The Digital Fix. 30 April 2004. 

External links[edit]