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Cardinal Hume funeral Friday, 25 June, 1999, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Basil Hume: From monk to Cardinal
In February 1976 a Benedictine abbot, Basil Hume, was plucked from the relative obscurity of a Yorkshire public school to become the new Archbishop of Westminster, the de facto Catholic leader of England and Wales.

At the time he admitted his unease. "When my name began to be prominent, I was surprised," he said. "When I got the news I was shattered!"

Basil Hume was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1923. The son of a Protestant heart surgeon and a French Catholic mother, he was educated at Ampleforth College and Benet Hall, Oxford.

The Cardinal as a young man
The young Basil Hume
He joined the Benedictine Order in 1941 and worked as a housemaster at his old school until 1963, when he was appointed abbot of the Ampleforth Community.

The contemplative life came to an abrupt end with his appointment as Archbishop, and later Cardinal, in 1976.

Cardinal Hume funeral
His inauguration service was followed by an ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey: for the first time in four centuries the Anglican Abbey resounded to Catholic plainsong. It was to be a taste of things to come.

The Queen and the Cardinal
Welcoming the Queen to her first Roman Catholic service
One of Cardinal Hume's main achievements was in building bridges with the Church of England. During his time at Westminster, the Queen attended her first Catholic service, Cardinal Hume spoke at the Anglican's General Synod and Pope John Paul II visited Great Britain.

Cardinal Hume had a close relationship with the Pope, despite having a more liberal outlook than the Pontiff.

He emphasised the Church's role in fighting for social justice and his efforts on behalf of the Guildford Four, wrongfully convicted as IRA bombers, helped lead to their release.

With Pope John Paul
Pope John Paul II was a close friend
During Basil Hume's time at Westminster, the Roman Catholic Church saw a number of high-calibre defectors join its ranks. Chief among these was the Duchess of Kent. The Cardinal, though, warned against triumphalism over this issue.

Despite an increasingly close dialogue with Canterbury, the Anglicans' acceptance of women priests still stood in the way of church unity.

On other issues Cardinal Hume was more equivocal. He condemned homosexual acts, for instance, while conceeding the validity of gay love.

Cardinal Hume was the epitome of an English gentleman though his tastes also lead him to a lifelong love affair with squash and Newcastle United Football Club.

He faced his final illness with impressive dignity. And, despite a steep decline under his leadership of those going to mass and priests coming forward for ordination, Basil Hume succeeded in making the Catholic Church in England and Wales more fashionable than it has been since the Reformation.

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Religious Affairs Correspondent Emily Buchanan looks back at Cardinal Hume's life
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25 Jun 99 | Cardinal Hume funeral
25 Jun 99 | Cardinal Hume funeral
17 Jun 99 | UK
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