The retired archbishop of Westminster, in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, died peacefully today at age 85.
His successor, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, announced the cardinal’s death, asking people to pray for the repose of his soul and for all those who mourn him. The cardinal’s health had taken a turn for the worse two weeks ago.
The Tablet reported that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor issued a final message through Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton a short time before he died, saying:
“At this time, the words I pray every night are never far from my thoughts: ‘Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.’ Please tell them that I am at peace and have no fear of what is to come. … Above all, as I now commend myself to the loving mercy of God, I ask them all to pray for me as I remember and pray for them.”
Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff remembered the cardinal as “always full of compassion, seeking to find what was good in each person. His gentle humor put everyone at their ease in his company.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said his death “represents a loss to his innumerable friends, to the church and to the country.”
Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was born August 24, 1932, in Berkshire. He was one of six children with three brothers becoming priests and another brother playing rugby for Ireland.
He was ordained in 1956.
He began serving as archbishop of Westminster in the year 2000. He retired in the year 2009, the first archbishop of Westminster to do so as all his predecessors had died in office.
The Tablet also reported:
Speaking on BBC Radio 2’s “Pause for Thought” last November on the eve of Remembrance Day, the Cardinal focused on the theme of a “good death.” “In spite of all our weaknesses and failures, God loves us and so death must be of a piece with life. With the help of God I hope I will be able to face it, not with fear but with hope and confidence as being in the hands of God.”
Who smiles like this near the moment of death?