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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK


Queen honours dying Hume

Cardinal Hume: "Fervent wish" to receive award from Queen

Cardinal Basil Hume, who has terminal cancer, has visited Buckingham Palace to receive the Order of Merit from the Queen.

He has been receiving pain-relieving treatment in hospital, but managed to visit the palace for a private audience with the Queen after the presentation.

Cardinal Hume, who is also leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, was appointed to the Order of the Merit last month.

His spokesman said it was "his fervent wish to go to the Palace to receive the award from the Queen".

Other engagement cancelled

He then went to the Archbishop's House for a brief meeting with his staff before returning to hospital.

An engagement at a flower festival, which forms part of the Corpus Christi celebrations at Arundel Cathedral, west Sussex, was cancelled on Wednesday because of Cardinal Hume's condition.

"He is following his doctors' advice as to the engagements he undertakes and he is consulting them about his future," the spokesman said.

"His condition is comfortable, but he has a terminal illness which is inevitably restricting him."

[ image: The Queen presenting the award to Nelson Mandela in 1995]
The Queen presenting the award to Nelson Mandela in 1995
The Cardinal, 76, broke the news of his illness in April when he wrote to all of his clergy.

"I have cancer and it is not in its early stages," he wrote. "I intend to carry on working as much and as long as I can."

Appointments to the prestigious Order of Merit, founded in 1902 by Edward VII, are in the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required.

Other members include Nelson Mandela, the Duke of Edinburgh, Baroness Thatcher, Dame Joan Sutherland, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead and Sir John Gielgud.

Membership is limited in numbers, to the Sovereign and 24 members. Cardinal Hume's appointment brings the current membership of the Order to 21 and is the 161st appointment since its foundation.

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