Catholic Cardinal, who started his working life in Portsmouth, dies

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor with former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor with former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Chancellor Philip Hammond. Picture: Getty

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THE former Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has died.

The 85-year-old, who worked in Portsmouth and Fareham in the 1960s and 70s, became leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales in March 2000 before retiring from his role in 2009.

He was admitted to hospital last month but lost his fight with cancer today.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales said he died at 3.15pm.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster, said in August Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s health had ‘taken a defining turn’.

In a message to Cardinal Vincent published on the Catholic Church’s website on Friday afternoon, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said he had been ‘privileged’ to serve the diocese of Westminster.

He said: ‘At this time, the words I pray every night are never far from my thoughts: ‘Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit’. Please tell them 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.

‘Above all, as I now commend myself to the loving mercy of God, I ask them all to pray for me as I remember and pray for them.’

Announcing his predecessor’s death, Cardinal Vincent said: ‘I am writing to let you know the sad news that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by his family and friends.

‘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.

‘Information about the funeral rites for the Cardinal will be circulated as soon as possible.’