16 NOVEMBER 2002, Page 40

Temerarious judgment

From The Hon. Gerard Noel Sir: I read with interest His Honour Malcolm Potter's letter (9 November) regarding my review of A Moral Reckoning (Books, 2 November). His uncritical acceptance of Eugenio Zolli's own account of his conversion must be seen against other quite different versions of the same event, including that of his former flock. I knew Zolli well and fully sympathised with the need he felt to retire behind a screen of fantasy.

As regards the letter's wider approach to the vexed question of Pope Pius XII, I would respectfully submit to the learned judge that in this particular case a resort to existing presuppositions without having first read the book is more than usually temerarious.

Gerard Noel

London EdI