Westminster awaits new archbishop
By Josephine Siedlecka
EXPECTATION was mounting this week of the imminent announcement of the next Archbishop of Westminster after it was claimed at the weekend that Rome has chosen a successor to Cardinal Basil Hume.
Although there has been no official confirmation of the appointment, a Sunday newspaper said that the Pope had chosen Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Arundel and Brighton as the new archbishop.
However, Mgr Kieran Conry, director of the Catholic Media Office, said: We have no news at this time," adding that it could be March before the new archbishop was officially named.
And while the secretary to Papal Nuncio Archbishop Pablo Puente, Fr Peter Grant, said this week that he was unable to comment it became clear that many English bishops remained in the dark.
Auxiliary Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Westminster said that although he did not know if the rumour was true, the diocese would warmly welcome Bishop Murphy-O'Connor.
"If Bishop Cormac were
appointed, we'd all be very blessed," he said. "Bishop Cormac is known to many of us personally and is a well-loved, fatherly figure. He's a good administrator and has done very good work in his own diocese and with the AnglicanRoman Catholic International Commission."
The bishop added: "We would welcome his appointment but at the present time I must say I have absolutely no information to say this news is true."
Fr Kit Cunningham, parish priest of St Ethelreda's in the City of London and editor of the Wesrminister Record, the diocesan newspaper, said: "How standards of journalism have dropped. It is sad that a paper which used to be trusted for the veracity of its news should stoop to these levels, "It is also laughable that these newspapers considered that the aristocracy and Anglican Church should play such an important role in the selection process. It is much more important that our new archbishop is in tune with the needs of the clergy of the diocese. We need someone who can encourage and guide them. In the meantime it is not helpful to speculate. We will know who the new archbishop is in due course."
'I'he procedure for choosing a new archbishop is complex. After Cardinal Hume's death in June, Archbishop Puente, consulted widely with bishops, priests and prominent lay Catholics.
He then drew up a ternu, a list of three names together with his own comments and recommendations, which he is believed to have presented to the Holy Father on January 14.
The Pope may have asked for more information or for other names.
The whole process has been carried out in strict confidence and it is understood that as soon as the Pope names a successor, and the candidate accepts, a date will he chosen for the public announcement.
This could take up to two weeks to arrange. The announcement will made simultaneously in Rome and London on a Tuesday morning.