Archbishop Dennis Hurley was a heroic churchman, the Roman Catholic equivalent of Desmond Tutu. He was a courageous opponent of South Africa's apartheid regime for 50 years, dubbed 'an ecclesiastical Che Guevara' by a South African official and 'guardian of the light' by Alan Paton.Born in Cape Town in 1915 of Irish parents, Dennis Hurley became the youngest Catholic bishop in the world in 1947 at 31 and would later come be regarded, along with Desmond Tutu, as one of the South African state's 'most wanted' political opponents. His inspiring life as a courageous opponent of South Africa's apartheid regime for over 50 years and as a champion of the reforms and spirit of Vatican II is chronicled in this indispensable work.
Paddy Kearney was a long-time confederate and colleague of Denis Hurley. His role within the Roman Catholic Church was just as controversial, though not as incendiary. Chosen by Pope John XXIII in 1962 to sit on the 25-member Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council, he was prominent among the progressive majority of bishops who battled against a reluctant Vatican bureaucracy to steer the church in a reformist direction. He disagreed with the birth control encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, and his disagreement only intensified over the years in view of the devastating AIDS epidemic sweeping Southern Africa. More recently, Hurley had he pain of watching an institution which he had founded, the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), destroyed by the Vatican because of its bold, progressive initiatives. Among his numerous honors was the Order of Meritorious Service awarded by Nelson Mandela in 1999. Hurley died aged 88 on 13 February 2004.