THE former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has died, aged 85. He had cancer, and had been admitted to hospital last month.
Cardinal O’Connor held office from 2000 to 2009, becoming in that year the first Archbishop of Westminster to retire.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement that the Cardinal’s death “represents a loss to his innumerable friends, to the Church, and to the country”.
“His humility, sense and holiness made him a church leader of immense impact,” Archbishop Welby said.
“Cormac was a good friend to Anglicans at home and internationally. At home he was notable for his support for inter-Church families. He cared for Anglican leaders he knew, encouraged and supported them, drawing them into the fellowship of Christ.
“He will be remembered with thanks and affection by all whose lives he touched. His words and his life drew people to God.”
In the announcement from Westminster diocese, the current Archbishop, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said: “Please pray for the repose of his soul. Pray, too, for his family, and those many friends and colleagues from the Diocese and far beyond who mourn his loss.”
Last month, a message from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor to Cardinal Nichols was posted on the diocesan website. It said: “At this time, the words I pray every night are never far from my thoughts: ‘Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.’”
He asked Cardinal Nichols to tell the priests, religious, and lay people of the diocese that “I am at peace and have no fear of what is to come. I have received many blessings in my life, especially from my family and friends.
“I thank God for the many priests, religious, and lay faithful who have helped and sustained me in my Episcopal life. Nor should I forget the many Anglican and Free Church colleagues whose friendship I have valued very much.”
Speaking to the BBC, Cardinal Nichols said that his lasting memory of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor would be his “laughter and of his joy in life, music, and sport, and in company and in having a good chat. . . I’m sure heaven will be ringing with his laughter.”