England cardinal under fire

England cardinal under fire

Like sharks smelling blood in the water, rumors are circulating in England that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s fellow bishops want him gone next year. Specifically they want Pope Benedict to quickly accept his resignation upon turning 75, the mandatory retirement age.

There’s great discontent over his leadership style. He’s described as “weak and isolated”, and often works with a “lack of real communication.” The straw that broke the camel’s back looks like it was the cardinal’s failure to fire his embattled spokesman Austen Ivereigh, who was immersed in a scandal involving several past relationships and allegations of coercion to abortion. Ivereigh finally resigned, but only after a lot of media damage had been done.

The archbishop of Westminster is traditionally the leader of the bishops of England and Wales, and thus it’s a very important position. Already whispers are circulating about successors, although such talk is entirely premature. It’s more a matter of wishful thinking and educated guessing rather than inside knowledge.

The party candidate is Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, but he’s seen as being a liberal sort, not the kind of bishop Pope Benedict has been picking. My favorite—and a decided longshot—is Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, the excellent theologian. Now that would shake up the British Church. Here’s his review of Pope Benedict’s first encyclical.

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1 comment
  • I’m a great admirer of Friar Aidan’s work, particularly on the sacred liturgy and relations with the Orthodox. I had the great pleasure of meeting him at a lecture, during his visit to the States two years ago. I fear he’d be less accessible to the rest of us as a bishop. Personally, I can’t imagine him wanting the job, accepting it only out of obedience.