BY SIMON CALDWELL
POPE BENEDICT XVI has appointed Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff as the new Archbishop of Southwark.
Archbishop Smith will be installed on June 10. He succeeds Archbishop Kevin McDonald, who resigned last year on grounds of ill-health.
Archbishop-elect Smith, 66, was born and raised in Southwark archdiocese and was ordained priest there in 1972. He was appointed Bishop of East Anglia in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, who in 2001 sent him to be the Archbishop of Cardiff following a succession of abuse scandals there.
He is the chairman of the Department for Citizenship and Christian Responsibility of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a role which has made him the most senior spokesman on life issues for a decade.
He said he was “very sad” to be leaving Wales after eight “happy” years. “I shall never forget the warmth and generosity of the people of Wales, not only the Catholic community but so many others, and their great sense of humour and cheerfulness,” he said.
“However, my sadness at leaving is tempered by the prospect of returning to my roots in south London and going home to the archdiocese in which I was born and for which I was ordained a priest in 1972,” he said.
“I am very much looking forward to that and to serving the people, religious, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark as their bishop,” he added. “It is good to be returning home.” Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the president of the bishops’ conference, described Archbishop Smith as “an outstanding and experienced leader”.
Southwark archdiocese has a Catholic population of 440,000, including 439 priests, 79 deacons and 792 religious.