Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Has Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor been offered a peerage?

It appears that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has given his support to key Government ministers in rejecting the criticisms of Labour delivered by the bishops of Manchester, Carslisle, Durham, Hulme and Winchester. He said on BBC Radio Four's Today Programme:

"Instead of blaming the Government for materialism and social problems, responsibility should be shared more widely. Ordinary people and churchmen also bear some of the blame. If we are going to accuse people of immorality it is much further than the Government, it is the whole country."

He continued, "I am not too happy with the blame game because if we say that there has to be a 'conversion', then I always start with myself."

Blame game?

This is not a game, Your Eminence. And why on earth may one not apportion blame when it is the reckless and myopic policies of Gordon Brown and this Labour Government which have led us to this sorry state of affairs? Did Jesus not blame? Did the prophets not blame?

And if you wish to talk of 'conversion', Your Eminence, you are welcome to start with yourself.

The Cardinal clarifies: "Obviously, governments have a particular responsibility but so have the people, so have the cities, so have the communities, I always think that a change of heart begins locally...you can't bring it about just by Government."

Well, Your Eminence, you have cetainly changed your tune over the past few years. Do you not recall questioning whether Roman Catholics can be loyal to the policies of this Labour Government? Do you not recall objecting to the imposition of 'a different version of our democracy' - one in which 'diversity and equality are held to be at odds with religion'?

The Cardinal was asked whether he agreed with the Bishop of Manchester that this Labour Government has been 'beguiled by money'. He responded: "I do not think that is the whole truth at all."

The whole truth?

What a bizarrely and inadequately ambiguous response this is.

Cranmer knows this man is on the way out - indeed, the announcement of his successor is imminent - but this new-found support for Gordon Brown against the Archbishop of Canterbury and the five bishops (not to mention the Conservative Party) is bemusing. Has he any idea what Labour has done to this country and its people? Has he any awareness of the profoundly anti-Christian legislation they have placed on the statute books? Has he not experienced its illiberal tendencies? Its intolerant secularism? Its refusal to re-examine abortion legislation? Does he know what it has done to Catholic adoption agencies or what it has tried to do to Catholic schools? Does he care?

The Cardinal's fervent support will certainly please Downing Street.

But Cranmer cannot help wondering if His Eminence has been offered a peerage.

Would he accept what Cardinal Basil Hume always refused? Would the Pope permit him to fuse the temporal with the spiritual?

Or would he care at all what the Pope says?


Blogger Matthew Cain said...

The government is indeed responsible for its policies. But they weren't formed in a vacuum. Nor does the government exist without the will of the people.

Which means that Cormac has a point.

30 December 2008 at 14:55  
Blogger len.allan said...

This government is pursuing an agenda of its own,so apparently is the cardinal!.
This government is profoundly anti-christian is the cardinal aware of this?

30 December 2008 at 15:08  
Blogger McKenzie said...

He has succomed to the Dark Side. This outburst can only have subjective roots based on some strange personal gain. He is taking the oposite stance just for the sake of it. The sheeple know not what they do for the most part they are brain dead, and he is fully aware of the game. But this sort of childishness helps only the Dark Side.

30 December 2008 at 15:08  
Anonymous Dave J. said...

Since the cardinal will have no heirs, it wouldn't surprise me for Brown to give him a dukedom, thus rewarding him with precedence ahead of the rebellious Anglican bishops.

30 December 2008 at 15:39  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I don't think cardinals can accept peerages - they're not allowed in secular legislatures, and I think it's Canon Law, unless something's changed in recent years. That's why Cardinal Hume never accepted one.

30 December 2008 at 15:47  
Anonymous Morus said...

Canon 287 §2: "They [clerics] are not to play an active role in political parties or in directing trade unions unless, in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority, this is required for the defense of the rights of the Church or to promote the common good."

Canon 289 §2 states that "Clerics are to take advantage of exemptions from exercising functions and public civil offices foreign to the clerical state, which are granted in their favor by law, agreements or customs, unless their proper Ordinary has in particular cases decreed otherwise."

So from this, I would take it that the permission of His Holiness would be required.

There's also the issue of the Oath of Allegiance/Solemn Affirmation. Could a Cardinal make such a statement to the Head of the Anglican Communion?

Even if offered, and permission given, would His Eminence be a Lord Temporal or a Lord Spiritual, and what would be the constitutional implications of either a Cardinal accepting that he was a Lord Temporal (not one of the Lords Spiritual), or the British State recognising a Catholic as a Lord Spiritual?

Best not go there. No peerage for Cormac.

30 December 2008 at 16:48  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Morus,

The Cardinal's elevation would present no constitutional issues as he would (like a former chief rabbi) be a Lord Temporal. And neither would it fall foul of Canon 287 §2, for he would be a cross-bencher. The Oath of Allegiance likewise would present no bar, any more than it does for Roman Catholic commoners (pace Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness) for Her Majesty is also the Head of State, and the Cardinal has already articulated his allegiance to the British state.

Only a serving cardinal would encounter the difficulties you identify. Otherwise, like Lord Harries and other 'former' Anglican bishops, he would be a peer in his own right, not an ecclesial ex officio.

The more His Grace has pondered this peerage, the more he is attracted to the possibility. The timing is most convenient: the recommendation would have the support of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and would permit the Government to once again persuade Roman Catholics that they favoured constitutional reform to end 'anti-Catholic' discrimination.

This, they hope, would bring dissaffected Catholics flocking back to their 'natural' Labour home.

And it would be a darn sight easier than reform or repeal of the Act of Settlement 1701.

And His Grace is rather inclined to believe that His Holiness would give his approval to the endeavour.

30 December 2008 at 18:09  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

"would His Eminence be a Lord Temporal or a Lord Spiritual"

The Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, Lord Eames, was made a Lord Temporal even though the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1871. The cardinal is himself an ordinary so Canon 289 has no bearing on him.

30 December 2008 at 18:21  
Blogger Bob said...

The correct Canon dealing with any issue of this kind is Canon 285 §3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

As a peerage would entail participation in the exercise of civil power,and the Cardinal is a cleric, he is, therefore, forbidden from accepting any such honour.

30 December 2008 at 18:36  
Blogger LancashireCat said...

Cormac Murphy O'Connor makes the very obvious and general point that a government alone cannot be held responsible for all the ills of society. It would be contrary to Christian teaching to deny the rest of us some role in sin and evil, not to mention the originator of sin and evil, Satan. However, beyond that statement of the obvious he manages to express the soft, liberal and un-Christian approach to the issues which is the despair of many Catholics today.It's ironic that the Cof E bishops have finally found backbone whilst Cormac just sound like a pre-backbone C of E bishop.
It's time for the leaving party and to hope his replacement will have a rather more robust and prophetic approach to the ills of the nation.

30 December 2008 at 18:51  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Fr Bob,

You have identified the article which His Grace could not find, but was sure he recalled Cardinal Basil Hume referring to it.

It could be argued that the House of Lords is not solely concerned with the exercise of civil power. The Lords Spiritual show the way (if you know what His Grace means).

And then there is the yet-to-be-investigated notion of being in holy orders but 'retired'. There is a limit of 26 bishops, yet 'retired' Anglican bishops remain bishops in holy orders while entering the House of Lords as Lords Temporal - Carey, Runcie, Harries et al.

But all this may be a flight of fancy. The post is purposely headed as a question - has he been offered a peerage? After the two offers made to his predecessor, it may be considered rather insulting (both to him and his followers) if he had not.

30 December 2008 at 19:53  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer, I don't dispute the possibility of the offer. It's possible and plausible that +Cormac has been offered a peerage. However, given that the House of Lords is the upper house of the British Parliament, I think that there is no possible argument which could be made to circumvent Canon 285 §3 in this regard. However, were +Cormac to accept such an offer it would make for an interesting canonical conundrum, but I would be 99.9999999% certain that even if the offer is made it will be refused. But as you say, he may only be offered out a peerage of courtesy as his predecessors had received similar offers.

With regard to the broader sweep of your article/post it is interesting that +Cormac should come out supporting the government when the Church of England hierarchy have been so critical of late. Certainly the Labour government in Britain has been no huge friend of the Catholic Church, or any Christian Church.

By the way, happy New Year, +Cranmer, in expectation of Thursday.

30 December 2008 at 20:53  
Anonymous Morus said...

Your Grace, many thanks for your answers to what were, I can assure you, genuine questions rather than objections.

If retired, he would indeed be a Lord Temporal as Carey and others have become. The Oath I can see would not be problematic.

Bob finds the article of Canon Law that I missed - though clearly if His Holiness did not object, I'm sure a solution could be found.

It is indeed a very interesting question to ask. Thank-you for posing it.

Happy New Year to you.

30 December 2008 at 22:19  
Anonymous not a machine said...

At this point i have to doubt the cardinals construct, the labour party are indeed to blame for this mess , they have parcelled out "game chips" to all religous organisations that are psuedo socialist,

dont hear the muslim council of britain criticising gordon brown either.

after the thatcher years you might expect a church ready for soft left policies , but "things can only get better" , it appears we have fallen for the olf benevolence with out question routine , rather like some of these happy clappy frenzy services .

if the cardianl thinks this goverment has had nothing to do with how the country is run , i would love to know to why or perhaps more importantly what he thinks a goverment is supposed to do , flick through the glossies with a cuppacino !!!

i had taken quite a liking to pope bendict as he challenges , it would seem the cardinal has had an off thought day !!

31 December 2008 at 08:45  
Blogger len.allan said...

I would have thought the cardinals job was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ not acting as a prop for this failed labour government.But there again as catholics run their own state perhaps I am wrong.

31 December 2008 at 09:34  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

I listened to the Cardinal's interview yesterday and didn't notice any sycophancy. He was asked the question whether he agreed with the Anglican bishops who accused the gocvernment of immorality a few days ago. He gave a thoughtful answer.

The point he made was that it's no use just blaming the government for immorality, it's the whole country. Govts have responsibility and so do the people, starting with onesself. [Noone requires people to spend spend spend, max out on credit cards, binge drink etc etc].

What was not touched on was the extant of the Government's responsibility, and of course this government has sown the seeds of economic destruction and we now reap the whirlwind. But who elected these clowns? The British people egged on by the BBC and the media.

Why didnt the Tories stand up to them more bravely? The likes of Michael Howard and William Hague ran for cover after losing an election. Churchill wouldnt have done that.

Blair and Brown proved that you can fool most of the people all the time.

Perhaps your Grace should sell stickers with the legend 'Don't blame me, I never voted New Labour'. It could be a nice little earner, as the nation is hypocritical as well and will doubtless buy it in large numbers.

31 December 2008 at 10:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

Your Grace,
I share your outrage at the pro-abortion stance of this government in particular and its anti-Christian stance in general. However, whilst I would disagree with much of the Cardinal's Roman theology, I do think that we, the people, have a part in the governments guilt. I believe that God gives us the government we deserve.
At a time when Israel was under the oppressive yoke of Rome Paul wrote this in
Romans 13:

" 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor."

So whilst I am appalled at the actions of this government, I have to admit that the attitudes of the British people are reflected in this God-forsaken government. Indeed, senior Conservatives such as George Osborne voted to keep the 24 week limit on abortions. Conservatives with conscience, such as Michael Gove, who is opposed to abortion, abstained on the abortion vote since, for him, abortion is fundamentally wrong.
I do not believe that Paul's statement on the governing authorities are an encouragement to partake in their acts of wickedness. If they told me to do something that was opposed to God's law and I refused, I am sure that Paul would have supported my opposition.
As Christians we should ask ourselves why our country has seen such decline in the last century. We were the most powerful nation in the World. We sent missionaries far and wide bringing new life in Christ to people who had been in darkness. Indeed, Matthew Parris articulates the benefits of that Christian witness most eloquently.
Britain is now little more than a vassal state of the EU and we should ask ourselves why.
This government is the worst I have experienced. It has presided over an accelerating decline. Why has God allowed it? For the same reason that he allowed the Israelites to be carried off into captivity; they were disobedient to His law.
I believe that the seeds of our decline were planted by liberal Bishops and church leaders at the end of the 19th Century. They undermined the truth of the scriptures and the congregations drifted away.
Now we have a nation whose rebelliousness against God is reflected in its choice of government. The Bishops who have spoken out against this government are from that same liberal tendency who promoted the rebellion in the first place.
If the fortunes of our nation are to be restored we must re-discover Christianity. That re-discovery must begin with a church leadership that believes the Nicene creed. A church leadership that calls the nation to repent of its sins and to receive new life in Jesus. A church leadership that believes that Jesus changes lives.
How many bad governments must God give us before we learn the lesson.

1 January 2009 at 12:44  
Blogger jimmytheone said...

Aren't we talking about the man who sheltered at least one paedophile priest a few years ago, shifting him from parish to parish until the worms in the pews turned and refused to tolerate him? Then he was sent as a chaplain to Gatwick Airport, which gave even more chances to practise his perversion. The nearest the then bishop seems to have come to an apology was admitting that the move to Gatwick was a "mistake".
I doubt that the average Briton wants to hear any more from him or about him.

9 March 2009 at 16:36  

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