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Pope told British cardinal not to accept seat in House of Lords

October 02, 2012

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the retired Archbishop of Westminster, has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI told him that he should not accept a seat in the House of Lords.

In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown extended an invitation to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor to become the first Catholic prelate to serve in the House of Lords in almost 500 years. The cardinal, who was stepping down from his pastoral duties, told the Daily Telegraph that he was inclined to accept the post, but decided to decline the honor on the Pope’s advice.

“I consulted with the Pope and his chief adviser, and they were against it,” the British prelate said. (Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor did not identify the Pope’s “chief adviser.”) He said that the Pope was concerned about the precedent that could be established by a prelate assuming a role in government. In recent years the Vatican has consistently opposed the involvement of Catholic clerics in secular political affairs.

A leading Vatican journalist, Paolo Rodari, had reported in 2009 that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was prepared to accept the seat in the House of Lords until Pope Benedict intervened. Until now, the cardinal himself had not previously addressed that report directly. Earlier this month he had said that he was happy he did not accept the seat, because “I would be involved in matters that were beyond my brief and might have caused me some hassle and difficulty.”


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  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Oct. 03, 2012 5:09 PM ET USA

    Duh??. A cardinal couldn't figure this out by himself? Shows how strong the pull for notoriety and celebrity is.