At least one tabloid was reported to have held back the announcement for a day because space was at a premium, with pictures of the products of Catholic schools on pilgrimage in Spain eating up the column inches.
The bishops may have thought they landed a catch, appointing one of their most respected heidies to such a prominent post, partly created to ward off attacks on Catholic schools. But they were quickly disabused by a letter in last Saturday's Herald from the enemy within.
"Mr McGrath wouldn't know a Catholic doctrine if it hit him on the head with a Celtic scarf," opined Patricia McKeever, editor of the Catholic Truth newsletter.
His crime? Soft on sex, it seems, or safe sex at any rate. Clearly no hard-liner.