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Hebblethwaite, Peter


Catholic journalist, broadcaster, author; b. Ashton-under-Lyne, England, Sept. 30, 1930; d. Oxford, Dec. 18, 1994. Hebblethwaite joined the Society of Jesus in 1948. After the novitiate at Manresa, Roehampton, he was sent to Chantilly, France, to study philosophy, mastering the French language in the process. He was ordained a presbyter in 1963.

Shortly after his ordination, Hebblethwaite became assistant editor of the Jesuit journal the month, launching a noteworthy career in Catholic journalism. The editor of the Month, Ronald Moffat, SJ, sent Hebblethwaite to Rome to report on the final session of Vatican II in 1965. Hebblethwaite was overwhelmingly excited by the promise the council held for renewal, particularly the possibilities for the relationship of the Church with the modern world articulated in the discussion over Gaudium et spes.

In 1974 Hebblethwaite left the Society, obtained a dispensation from his vows, and married Margaret Speaight. After his marriage in 1974, Hebblethwaite took up residence in Oxford, where he lectured in French at Wadham College. From 1978 to 1981, he resided in Rome where he served as correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR ). In 1981, he returned to Oxford, and continued as Vatican affairs writer for the NCR. He also produced a steady stream of articles for other newspapers and periodicals. His scholarly acumen, theological training, courageous voice, and loyal Catholic faith aided him in his prodigious contributions. His grasp of the workings of the Vatican and his bold, if often aggressive, criticism of Church affairs and teachings earned him a unique place in English Catholic journalism. In addition to his other writings, Hebblethwaite authored two widely acclaimed biographies, one on John XXIII and the other on Paul VI.

Bibliography: In addition to the articles of Hebblethwaite to be found in the issues of The Month, The National Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, and others, Hebblethwaite wrote several books, including: The Council Fathers and Atheism: The Interventions at the Fourth Session of Vatican Council II (New York 1966); Theology of the Church (Notre Dame IN 1969); The Runaway Church: Post-conciliar Growth or Decline? (New York 1975); Christian-Marxist Dialogue: Beginnings, Present Status, and Beyond (New York 1977); The Year of Three Popes (Cleveland 1978); The New Inquisition?: The Case of Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Küng (San Francisco 1979); The Man Who Leads the Church: An Assessment of Pope John Paul II (San Francisco 1980) [with J. Wahle ]; The Papal Year (1981); Introducing John Paul II: The Populist Pope (San Francisco 1982); John XXIII, Shepherd of the Modern World (Garden City NY 1985); Synod Extraordinary (Garden City NY 1986); In the Vatican (London 1986); Paul VI: First Modern Pope (New York 1993). His last work appeared posthumously, The Next Pope (London 1994). On Hebblethwaite himself, see "Peter Hebblethwaite," The Tablet 248 (2431 December 1994) 167677; and t. fox, "Peter Hebblethwaite Wrote of the Church He Knew and Loved," National Catholic Reporter (January 6, 1995) 2.

[r. e. mccarron]

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