Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor: "We Feel Orphaned"

Westminster Archbishop on the Death of John Paul II

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LONDON, APRIL 5, 2005 ( Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor noted the impact John Paul II had on ecumenism, particularly with the Anglican Communion.

The archbishop of Westminster spoke Sunday before departing for Rome and the upcoming papal funeral and subsequent conclave.

Q: How did you feel there in England upon the news of the Pope’s passing?

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: Naturally like everyone else in the Catholic Church, we feel sad and, in a way, orphaned by the death of Pope John Paul. The genuine sorrow and sadness of all our Catholic people here in Britain is very evident.

There is also a feeling of thanksgiving — namely thanking God for giving us such a Pope who has led this Church for 27 years with such courageous charism and faith and it’s been a wonderful pontificate.

So I think that as well as this, thanks to God, people are experiencing a sense of understanding, of satisfaction that his sufferings are at an end now, he’s with the Lord.

Q: Something very pertinent this Pope worked for was the bridging of chasms between peoples and promoted unity and ecumenism. Could you comment on this subject to which you are so close?

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: Well, there’s no doubt that Pope John Paul had ecumenism and unity of the Church very much in his heart. He particularly concentrated, I think, on a fuller unity with the Orthodox Church but he also had a lot for the Anglican churches particularly so here in Britain.

And though I think it was sorrowful, on the one hand, that we hadn’t gotten closer together doctrinally, still, there’s no question of his greetings and affection for the archbishop of Canterbury and his cause for ecumenism was very clear.

Q: Is there any anecdote that you recall which could highlight this aspect of the Pope?

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: If we’re thinking in terms of ecumenism, I always remember a meeting of the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, with Pope John Paul when the Pope took his arm and said — “Affective collegiality will lead us to effective collegiality.”

In other words, that the warmness of prayer, the witness together and the friendship between Christians — the Anglican and Catholic church — would lead to more effective collegiality. That the institution itself, in terms of doctrine and authority would grow closer together so it was a very moving.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: There’s so much one could say about Pope John Paul and what is interesting is that all over the word people are recalling what he said and did. Above all, it’s the memory of a quite unique and remarkable man who the good Lord gave us as Pope for a long time and whose memory will always be treasured.

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