I see, according to an obituary in yesterday's Guardian, that Archbishop Denis Hurley, the Catholic archbishop emeritus of Durban, died of a stroke last Friday, at the age of eighty-eight.
The Durban archdiocese was rather proud of the young Archbishop. When Father Hurley was appointed bishop in 1946, at the age of 31, he became the youngest Catholic bishop in the world. He was appointed Archbishop of Natal six years later, in 1952.
I saw the venerable archbishop two or three times in the early sixties, when I was 8–10 years old, when my mom spruced me up and we took a bus to the Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban for some big festival or the other, at which the archbishop was officiating. One of the novelties of going to the cathedral was that you could actually mix and pray with white folks!
Archbishop Hurley was a vociferous opponent of South Africa's apartheid policies. He was also a man of action; I would often see reports and pictures of him in the newspaper, in places like Cato Ridge, protesting the forced evictions of Blacks, Coloreds, and Indians under the hated Group Areas Act. (My mom used to worry that he would be arrested.)
Here's an interesting tidbit, culled from the obituary, that I was not aware of: "For four years [Archbishop Hurley] lived on Robben Island, where his father was a lighthouse keeper, thus preceding the national leaders imprisoned there, as he was later able to joke with Nelson Mandela."