Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cardinal considers historic Lords move

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has been talking about becoming a Peer of the Realm, in addition to being as Prince of the Church.

"My predecessor was offered a place in the House of Lords and chose not to accept it and felt that he had a better voice, if you like, outside of Parliament by being a religious leader and there is a bit of me that would feel the same."

He added: "On the other hand, time moves on and there may be something to be said at this stage for someone like me - in retirement - to be part of the House of Lords to enable me to express my views, the views of my church, on social and ethical issues.

"I think that the prime minister wants to bring religious leaders into the House of Lords to make sure that their voice is heard.

"That obviously wouldn't just include myself as a Roman Catholic but also the Chief Rabbi and a prominent Muslim perhaps, because he thinks that these kind of voices in public life have a value."

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor also explained that he had been able to speak to the prime minister whenever he needed to during his tenure.

He said: "If I want to speak to the prime minister I can speak to him, put it that way. "


Christopher said...

Although I have a soft spot for him, being able to speak to the PM anytime didn't seem to do either the the Cardinal or the PM much good.

Not wishing either to be a terrible bore, am I the only one who gets really irked when people say "my church" (like "my boots") when they talk about the Church? Sorry, Father, it is just one of those abuses of language that really gets up my nose.

Laurence England said... he's been speaking to the PM at any time he pleases. What did he say about the HFE Bill?

leutgeb said...

I thought clerics were not allowed to have political office, or is that just elected political office?

Gregory the Eremite said...

How does this sit with regard to canon 285 part 3 (which forbids clerics from participating in the exercise of civil power)?

joe mc said...

I thought priests and bishops were unable, under canon law, to be legislators. Does the Cardinal's retired status exempt him from this rule?

universal doctor said...

it's that good old chestnut again: tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. yawn

George said...

..."to be part of the House of Lords to enable me to express my views, the views of my church, on social and ethical issues", says CMO'C.

Oh really??? Have I missed something over the last 10 years??? His views have been just so well expressed that Britain now leads the world in 'anti-life' policies with a 'church' that has been ecumenised (protestantised), catholic schools that have been sold down the swanney etc...

What's with 'talking to Gordon Brown', of what possible use can that be in furthering the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in this Country?!

Cathy said...

Gordon Brown would be delighted to give the Cardinal and other religious leaders a seat in the Lords so that he can gain support from religious people with the claim that he appreciates religious values, while he will continue to ignore them as he has in the past (as the Cardinal acknowledges).

There is no comparison between Catholic bishops being in the Lords five hundred years ago, when religious values were dominant, and their presence today in a secular world.

The Cardinal says he is retiring. He should therefore retire and leave Archbishop Vincent Nichols to be the national spokesperson for the Church in England and Wales.

Bernard O'Callaghan said...

Like the President of Paraguay, it would be OK for Cormac to sit in the Lords provided that he accepts a suspensio a divinis from all priestly and episcopal functions. It would mean he could no longer preach or speak in the name of the Church. Now wouldn't that be nice!

mafeking said...

Beware of liberals bearing gifts... Don't do it Cormac, these people (Blair, Brown et al) are just trying to stitch you up and turn you into a pet Catholic. Disentangle yourself from them and maintain your independence.

To me Cormac's big weakness is that he is too easily impressed by the rich and powerful. He takes them at face value instead of seeing them for what they are. They only want to friends with us if we become like them.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Would this seriously undermine the authority of the incoming Archbishop of Westminster and future Cardinal? Why did he force the Pope to appoint a successor and in the process become the first AoW not to die in office?

dillydaydream said...

Unfortunately a dangerous precedent was set when the Pope allowed Lugo dispensation to become president of Paraguay. It is too early to say if this will end up like Aristide's reign of terror in Haiti. Personally I wouldn't put a liberation theologian in charge of a dead cat, but then as an oppressed female in an authoritarian patriarchal church, I probably haven't had my consciousness raised sufficiently to appreciate the possibilities.

Would CMOC be the first Catholic cardinal since Reginald Pole to be a member of the House of Lords, or did that honour go to Wolsey?

nickbris said...

We are living in dangerous times.Everything we do is recorded for ever,now thanks to cheap cameras and mobile phones so can we keep an eye on what THEY are up to.

Now is the time for the Catholic Church to actually be involved from the inside.This move is well overdue and I hope Cormac will go ahead with the move.

There will be plenty who pooh pooh the very thought of ANY CHANGE but it can only be good for us all,there are millions of lives at stake.

USLawStudent said...

I think Cathy makes the best point. The voice of the Church should be left to Archbishop Vincent.

However, this may seem detrimental in the short term as the religious leaders are used more so as a means to an end (i.e., the political leaders wish to use them as their puppets). But, I think that, with time, these religious figures could play an influential role, if not, at the very least, the role of enlightening the other members of the House on issues of faith and morals.

Are there other means to achieve this result? Absolutely. This will be interesting to watch play out.

Anonymous said...

dillydaydream: The Holy Father also subequently laicised Lugo. He was then later found to have fathered a child as Bishop. 'Nuff said...

Anyway, as Gregory points out: Canon Law prohibits it! Cormac needs to go back to school...

Anonymous said...


It is contrary to the law of the Church for a cleric (i.e. one invested with the care of souls) to have any part in the power that controls the country. How more explicit must one be?

dillydaydream said...


A choice of being a laicised Lord, or a Cardinal Emeritus? That works, and would be a revealing choice. I am sure that Abp Nichols is capable of reminding lay people of their proper place when necessary (as he did with Tony Blair). Not that I am suggesting for one moment that that would need to happen.

A-M said...

Wow, and what possible good could he do there in the Lords sitting with the politically handpicked that he could not do as Cardinal, as a sign of contradiction? I always get really worried when politicians and prelates get this pally. If they're getting on that well, something's going badly wrong. But then I'm cynical.

James said...

In the last few months, Mr Brown has been offering goodies to the Catholic Church - inviting the Pope to visit the UK, offering Cardinal Cormac a seat in the House of Lords and offering to change on the Act of Succession.

After enacting some of the most anti-Christian legislation of any state, it seems to me that Mr Brown is now trying desperately to try to shore up the Labour vote amongst Catholics especially in Scotland.

The traditional Catholic vote for Labour has collapsed in recent by-elections in Scotland.

I'm afraid that Cardinal Comac is being used (and flattered) by Mr Brown for political reasons.

I am amazed that the Cardinal is so innocent as to believe that this disgraced and discredited government really wants to listen to his pearls of wisdom.

James said...

From the BBC website Friday, 3 April 2009

"Cocktails, piano and prayers"

By Robert Pigott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News

"Friends of Cormac Murphy-O'Connor say he will be sorry to leave his job as Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, leader of one of the principal dioceses of Europe.

He will miss all that goes with it - the pomp and ceremony, automatic membership of the British "establishment" and the frequent opportunities to travel to Rome."

georgem said...

Power without responsibility? Hmmmm. Not usually the prerogative of an ex-Archbishop.
CMOC has always been a bit of a cardinal-lite. One has the impression he is more than a little susceptible to the vanity of being invited to sit at the Establishment top table.
Poor old dear. I suppose a gentle post-prandial snooze in the House of Lords after a subsidised lunch, and expenses, beats whiling away the hours in a public library for a bit of warmth.
I wonder if he'd expect to retain a set of rooms at Archbishop's House? So handy for a late vote.

ffn said...

Dear Fr Ray u will need to censor these views, Cormac is a lovely but totally out of his depth puppet; shades of Hartley Hare from the childrens TV series of 1970-74, but unfortunately not as intelligent,His love for Bliar fills me with utter disgust, I do hope the heaqvenly father takes seriously the words of the Son about Millstones,

bernadette said...

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor also explained that he had been able to speak to the prime minister whenever he needed to during his tenure.

Really ? er.. when was that then, your worshipful eminence. Because I was one of your many sheep, desperate to know why you remained painfully silent at the crucial moments when Catholics(born and un-born) in the UK were being persecuted and abandoned.

And all the time you were fighting our corner on the phone to Tony and Gordon ?

Tony and Cherie's fatal flaw was(is) their impressionable naivete amongst the rich, powerful and fraudulent.. Hinduja brothers, Carol Caplin and her ex-con boyfriend, the lucrative speaking engagements while still in public office etc. It looks like someone else has now fallen prey to the same vanities.

I have always been in favour of the House of Lords.. I thought it represented a reasonable check and balance on the day-to-day business. I'm not really sure any more...... this really smells bad.

ffn said...

Father you have a duty to prevent occasions of serious SIN never mention Cormac or BLIAR on your blog ever again, please,please please.

Anonymous said...

Or take up silent residence in Papa Stronsay.

I'd even chip in for some warm clothes.


nickbris said...

Thanks Mark but sometimes the Law has to be disregarded the same the same as unlawful orders.

There are so many dubious characters in our Government elected and unelected and the only way to get any control is to get amongst them.

When Cormac spoke up against the ILLEGAL war on Iraq the authorities unleashed acres of garbage in the press.

We are living in dangerous times.

Anonymous said...


What planet of modern moral relativism do you live on? The law can never be disregarded, especially Canon Law, the law of the Church.

If someone gives an unlawful order, then by its very definition that is unlawful, but it does follow that the law is being disregarded.

Cormac, whether we like him or not, is a cleric, a Priest. Is that really compatible with being involved in the lawmaking of this country? For the sake of the man as a Priest - rather than lawmaker - I think not.

Jonathan said...

I am sickened that the Cardinal is still ambitious in this world and not adequate in standing up for the faith. It is entirely inappropriate for a new archbishop of Westminster to have his predecessor in the limelight of the Lords and therefore the media. It is also completely inappropriate for the Cardinal to be involved with Tony Blairs rewriting of religious belief in his Faith Foundation. Particularly as Mr Blair's hardened and public dissent from the teachings of the Church is increasingly becoming apparent and who can we blame for that?

Riccardo said...

Why can't he do something useful in his retirement such as becoming a parish priest. The former bishop of Menivia has just been inducted as a parish priest. Unlike Lords, or aspiring Lords, we have a great shortage of parish priests. I am sure Cormac could do more good as a parish priest than he could as a Lord. Whenever I see them on the BBC parliament chanel they seem to be dozing off.

Richard Duncan said...

CMOC and Gordon Brown may be all the things that people say that they are, but the value of the move would be that it establishes a precedent, which CMOC's successors might be able to make (better?) use of than CMOC himself. I can't see anything wrong with this. It would be an honorific title rather than anything involving substantive political power.

Richard said...

"Cardinal considers historic Lords move"

Lords? He's going to spend his retirement watching cricket? Excellent - should keep him out of mischief.