Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, April 17, 1999 Published at 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK


Catholic leader fights cancer

Archbishop of Westminster Basil Hume: "Calm and at peace"

By BBC News Online's Alex Kirby

Catholic Church leader Cardinal Basil Hume is suffering from inoperable cancer.

But the 76-year-old Archbishop of Westminster, who is head of the church in England and Wales, plans to work on for as long as he can.

Alex Kirby reports: "He is calm and at peace"
He has made no public statement about his illness. But his staff have given the BBC copies of letters he has written to fellow bishops in England and Wales, and to clergy in his archdiocese.

The letters read: "You may have heard that I have recently been in hospital for tests.

"The result: I have cancer, and it is not in its early stages.

"I have received two wonderful graces. First, I have been given time to prepare for a new future.

"Secondly, I find myself - uncharacteristically - calm and at peace."

'No fuss'

He went on: "I intend to carry on working as much and as long as I can. I have no intention of being an invalid until I have to submit to the illness.

Alex Kirby reports: "Business as usual for as long as possible"
"But nevertheless, I shall be a bit limited in what I can do. Above all, no fuss. The future is in God's hands. I am determined to see the Holy Year in."

The Holy Year is the Catholic name for the year 2000.

It begins for the church on Christmas Eve, when Cardinal Hume plans to unseal a door in Westminster cathedral, which he ceremonially sealed last month.

The unsealing will symbolise Christ's renewed entry into all of human life.

[ image: A cardinal for 23 years, but always a monk]
A cardinal for 23 years, but always a monk
In 1945 Basil Hume became a monk, a member of the Benedictine community based at Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire.

He was appointed Archbishop of Westminster in March 1976, and two months later was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

He is known for the simplicity of his life, and is held in great affection by many people both within and outside the Catholic Church.

The unexpected news of his illness will sadden them. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, commented: "I am so sorry to learn of the serious nature of Cardinal Hume's illness.

"His faithful acceptance of the situation and his ability to look forward with determination and with hope is typical of the man whom we know, love and respect.

"Cardinal Hume can depend on my support. He will be in my prayers and in the prayers of the whole nation in the months ahead."

But the clear message from Archbishop's House is that it is to be business as usual for as long as possible.

And Basil Hume, a Catholic traditionalist in many ways, will be the first to insist that there is nothing final about death.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

17 Apr 99 | UK
Cardinal Hume: A life of devotion

18 Feb 99 | UK
New millennium, new morals, says Cardinal Hume

27 Nov 98 | UK
Put Christ back into Christmas - Hume

27 Aug 98 | UK
Diana 'no saint' says cardinal

Internet Links

The Catholic Church in England and Wales

Cardinal Basil Hume

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online