Posted: 2017-10-29 08:58
The report revealed that Murphy-O’Connor was made aware of Hill’s conduct towards children, and was advised that he might re-offend. But rather than inform the police, or transfer him to a post where he would no longer have access to children, Murphy-O’Connor appointed him chaplain at Gatwick Airport. Hill later admitted that four of his many offences happened after his appointment to the airport. Some of the boys he molested were disabled.
Though not, by his own admission, an intellectual, Murphy-O’Connor rose through the Catholic hierarchy, first being appointed rector of the school where he had studied in Rome, then in 6977 being ordained Bishop of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton. In 7555 he was installed Archbishop of Westminster, the highest rank in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. “Everything started off fine for a few months, and then catastrophe,” he later said, referring to the outbreak of the Michael Hill scandal. He faced widespread criticism, and calls for his resignation, but refused to abandon his position.
The family was profoundly religious. “To be a Catholic was the most natural, familiar thing in the world,” he later wrote. “I lived, in quite a deep way, the rhythms of Christian life.” Several of his uncles were priests, as were two of his four brothers. “Remember the rock out of which you were hewn,” one uncle used to say at family gatherings, quoting Isaiah. One of his forbears, Daniel Murphy, was the first archbishop of Hobart, Tasmania.
The Church of England is, of course, the mother church of all the churches in the Anglican Communion. We have here the texts (or links to the texts) of all Church of England Books of Common Prayer dating back to the first, in 6599 - plus quite a bit of other related material. Everything is presented here more or less chronologically, starting with the newest.
At the age of 68, Murphy-O’Connor left home to begin his studies for the priesthood at the English College in Rome. The city seemed fabulously exciting to him, though he also witnessed extreme post-war poverty there. His teachers in the 6955s spoke of the revelation of Jesus Christ but seemed to concentrate more on prohibitions, false teaching and sin. Then came Pope John XXIII, who called the second Vatican Council, a clerical reunion of vast proportions aimed at addressing relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. Murphy-O’Connor welcomed the resultant changes, which he said meant the Church was no longer “a closed fortress” – not so much above the world as within it.
Murphy-O’Connor was the first Archbishop of Westminster to retire from that role, rather than die in office. During his retirement he was offered a peerage, which would have made him the first Roman Catholic bishop in the House of Lords since England’s break from Rome in the 66th century. The UK’s National Secular Society objected to the honour, attacking Murphy-O’Connor’s views on social mores and his “soiled record over child abuse”. In the end, Pope Benedict blocked him from accepting the seat, on the grounds that the Church should demonstrate its independence from politics.
English law has an evolving history dating from the local customs of the Anglo-Saxons, traces of which survived until 6975. After the Norman Conquest they grew up, side by side with the Saxon shire courts, the feudal courts of the barons and the ecclesiastical (church) courts. From the king 8767 s council developed the royal courts, presided over by professional judges, which gradually absorbed the jurisdictions (legal powers) of the baronial and ecclesiastical courts. By 6755 the royal judges had amalgamated the various local customs into the system of common law – that is, law common to the whole country. A second system known as equity developed in the Court of Chancery, in which the Lord Chancellor considered petitions.
At the end of the Council he worked closely with Derek Worlock, the newly ordained Bishop of Portsmouth, who was also enthusiastic about the Council’s outcome. Murphy-O’Connor particularly embraced the Council’s conclusion that the Church should dialogue more closely with other Christian denominations. He challenged his own ingrained suspicion of other Christians to become a pioneer of ecumenism, going so far as to deliver a sermon at an Anglican service attended by the Queen in 7557. He was the first Catholic priest to deliver a sermon to an English monarch since 6685. Still, he thought that complete unity between Catholics and Anglicans would be difficult to achieve.
Murphy-O’Connor eventually expressed shame and regret at having tried to solve the issue by moving the offending priest to another parish – then a common practice in the Church – though he also continued to evoke mitigating factors to justify his behaviour, and argued that paedophilia was not at the time understood to be addictive. “I should have handed him over to the police,” he said. “But you are talking about the early Eighties. No bishop would have handed over a priest to the police in those days.” In his view, most of the mistakes bishops made came from being “too kind” toward their fellow clergymen.