Dear friends in Christ,
Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog – after the summer!
On Wednesday the Catholic Church in England & Wales bade a final and indeed fond farewell to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at a requiem Mass followed by his burial in Westminster Cathedral.
I was pleased to be present to represent the Diocese of Lancaster.
The Cardinal’s health had been failing in recent months and he died peacefully in a London hospital.
During his final illness Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor had a message sent from his hospital bed to his brother Bishops as well as to the priests of Westminster diocese. He assured everyone that he was at peace and that death held no fear for him. His message was a remarkable testimony to a deeply Christian soul approaching its end.
The liturgy of the Cardinal’s funeral Mass, presided over by Cardinal Nichols, was solemn and dignified but permeated with faith and the unshakeable hope afforded to us by Christ’s resurrection. The music of the Mass, both Latin and English, somehow soothed and eased the sense of loss which we all felt.
The many bishops, and large number of priests, who concelebrated the Mass was an indication of the affection in which Cardinal Cormac was held, and the numerous lives he touched. The huge attendance of laity, ecumenical guests and his extended family, were further evidence of just how much so many people appreciated and felt close to him.
I was privileged to know the Cardinal well and was always struck by his cheerful outlook and warmth of friendship, characteristics highlighted in the excellent homily delivered by Archbishop George Stack. St Thomas Aquinas taught that grace builds on nature and this was patently true of the life of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. He brought his many human gifts and talents and put them at the service of the Church in his sixty years as a priest, and forty as a bishop.
Cardinal Cormac was a big man in every sense, both physical and spiritual, but humble enough to acknowledge his faults and seek forgiveness when needed.
The Catholic Church in England & Wales, and beyond, owe this great servant of the Lord and faithful priest a great debt. A great presence has gone from our midst. We pray that he now rests from his labours and enjoys the reward of a good and faithful servant.
The plain coffin of the Cardinal was laid to rest beside the tenth station of the cross in the cathedral, and there his mortal remains await the glory of the resurrection.
Cardinal Nichols read the final prayers of the funeral over the vault and we left Cardinal Cormac finally at home in the cathedral church where he served as Cardinal Archbishop.
It was with mixed emotions that we went on our way, but grateful to God for having known and being graced by such a wonderful priest and human being. May Cardinal Cormac rest in peace!
Until next week – may God bless you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster
Photos: Thanks to Marcin Mazur (CBCEW)