‘Cormac was a priest to his fingertips’

It has almost been three weeks since the Church laid to rest Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.  On 13th September Westminster Cathedral was full with clergy and lay faithful of the Church from England and Wales as this faithful servant took his resting place within the Wales of the Mother Church of England and Wales.

During the Funeral Mass our own Archbishop George Stack, a close friend of the late Cardinal, gave the homily during which he paid tribute to the Cardinal’s “wonderful combination of gifts…his gift for friendship and his capacity for putting people at their ease, together with his insightful mind and depth of faith,” stating “Cormac was a priest to his fingertips” who was “aware of his failings, yet supremely confident in his calling.”

The life and witness of Cardinal Cormac was rooted in his deep sense of a loving and merciful God.  Experiencing that love and mercy in his life he communicated it to others in his approach and his words.  The Cardinal could be quite an imposing figure given his stature but his words, his humour and his demeanour spoke of his large heart touched by the divine love. Hence his great work towards the unity of Christians and his ability to draw all kinds of people to his very own funeral rites.

Among those present at the funeral were Archbishop Edward Adams, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Paul Gallagher from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Cardinal Sean Brady, the former leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Over 40 bishops and 300 priests and deacons from the dioceses of Westminster, Arundel and Brighton and Portsmouth also concelebrated the Mass.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, his predecessor, Lord Williams of Oystermouth and Bishop Richard Chartres, the Emeritus Bishop of London were among the Ecumenical guests. They were joined by Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Archbishop Gregorious of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Other leading figures who were present included the Duke of Norfolk, representing the Prince of Wales, the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, the UK’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy as well as members of the House of Commons and the Lords including Lord Patten, Lord Alton, Baroness Williams of Crosby and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Messages of condolences were received from the Queen, the Prime Minister, Theresa May and the Chief Rabbi, Dr Ephraim Mirvis.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor died on 1st September 2017 aged 85 years following a period of illness.  He died as he had lived with a profound sense of the presence of Almighty God and the love and mercy He showed to his servant.  His final letter to the clergy and lay faithful of the Diocese of Westminster communicated this deep trust when he said ‘Please tell them that I am at peace, and have no fear of what is to come,’

The Mass concluded with choir singing Faure’s Requiem, as the Cardinal’s coffin was carried in procession to the foot of the Tenth Station of the Cross where it was interred. In his coffin is placed the traditional Rogito, a testament to the life of the one who lays in peace and seeks supplication for prayers.  He carries it with him to present to the Lord at the end of time as a thankful recognition of the Church for his life and work.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Read the full text of Archbishop Stack’s homily

Read the full text of the Rogito placed in the Cardinal’s coffin

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