BY SIMON CALDWELL
AN AGGRESSIVE brain tumour has forced the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain to seek early retirement, Church sources have clarified.
Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz bade his final farewell to the bishops of England and Wales last week following surgery and months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The archbishop, 73, told them that he was retiring two years ahead of the retirement age of 75 and would leave England permanently next month to return to his native Spain. “My illness is very serious and so this is my last meeting with you,” he told the plenary meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in Leeds.
Noting that he has been so ill over the last six months that he has struggled to work, he said: “The chemotherapy continues and does not allow me to continue my mission here. It has been agreed that I will leave the country on December 5.
“I do not know when my successor will come – all I can tell you is that he is not from Spain.” He added: “I know that you are very good bishops and as the papal visit [to England and Scotland in September] showed the Catholic Church in this country is strong. I can assure you that the Catholic community of Britain will always be in my heart. Thank you to every one of you.”