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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor buried at Westminster Cathedral


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Reuters

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People pay their respects as Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor lies in state at Westminster Cathedral

The funeral of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has been held at Westminster Cathedral.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor died on 1 September at the age of 85.

Among those attending the funeral were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and his predecessor Lord Rowan Williams, along with 47 bishops and more than 250 priests.

The cardinal’s body has been lying in state at the cathedral since Tuesday.

The former archbishop, who had cancer, helped plan his funeral and chose his burial place – in a vault at the heart of the cathedral.

The funeral mass was taken by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster.

‘Unwavering devotion’

It had been his wish to be laid to rest close to where people will regularly pass him and pray for him.

He became the 10th Archbishop of Westminster – and therefore the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales – in March 2000, and was appointed as a cardinal by Pope John Paul II the following year.

He retired from his role as archbishop in 2009.

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PA

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor performs mass in 2002

Pope Francis paid tribute to the cardinal’s “unwavering devotion” and “distinguished service to the Church in England and Wales” following his death.

Senior national and political figures, including former Irish president Mary McAleese, also attended the funeral. They were among the 1,200 mourners in the cathedral.

The Cardinal’s nephew, Patrick Murphy-O’Connor, paid tribute to his uncle’s devotion to his family, for whom “he would do anything”.

Daniela Relph at Westminster Cathedral

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor had planned his own funeral.

One of those attending told me it had been “the most jovial funeral he’d ever been to.”

But it was also a solemn requiem mass.

The cardinal had been a senior figure in the Church during turbulent times. He faced criticism over the handling of a child abuse scandal.

In his homily the Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Reverend George Stack, said the cardinal had acknowledged his mistakes and made no excuses.

‘A huge lesson’

George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff, gave the homily. The cardinal was “a priest to his fingertips” and “supremely confident in his calling,” he said.

Yet the archbishop also acknowledged that the cardinal had learned “a huge lesson” when he faced controversy over how he handled claims of child sex abuse by the clergy.

In his role as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Mr Murphy-O’Connor decided in 1985 to move Father Michael Hill – who he was told was a threat to children – to the chaplaincy at Gatwick Airport.

Mr Hill was later jailed in 2002, having pleaded guilty to indecent assault.

Explaining his decision, the cardinal said he had received “conflicting psychiatric reports” and believed Hill would not have access to children. He also apologised to Mr Hill’s victims.

At the funeral, Archbishop Stack said : “He acknowledged his mistakes. He made no excuses. He said the most difficult words of all, ‘I’m sorry’.”



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