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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK


Roman Catholic leader Hume dies

Cardinal Hume celebrates mass

Cardinal Basil Hume, the leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, has lost his fight against cancer.

Religious Affairs Correspondent Emily Buchanan: Basil Hume was the epitome of the English gentleman
The 76-year-old cardinal, the Archbishop of the Westminster diocese, died peacefully, the Catholic media office said. Two priests were at his bedside.

He disclosed in April that he had abdominal cancer, and that it was "not in the early stages".

But in letters to his fellow bishops and to the clergy of the diocese, he said he was determined to see in the millennium.

[ image: Cardinal Hume: Respected and loved]
Cardinal Hume: Respected and loved
Last month he entered hospital for what was called "palliative care".

A statement from Archbishop's House, Westminster, said: "The cardinal had just been anointed and they were praying with him when he died peacefully and without pain. In his last days, the cardinal had weakened considerably but he remained calm and at peace throughout.

"The Mass at 5.30pm tomorrow evening [18 June] in Westminster Cathedral will be offered for the repose of the cardinal's soul."

His private secretary, Father James Curry, was with him when he died.

"All of us who work as members of his staff at Archbishops House feel an intense loss," he said.

He paid tribute to the "happy working environment" created by the cardinal.

Father James Curry: "We have lost a good and eminently lovable man"
One of Cardinal Hume's last appearances in public was 2 June, when he went to Buckingham Palace to be made a member of the Order of Merit by the Queen.

A palace spokesman said: "The Queen is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Hume, whom she will remember for his outstanding contribution to the Christian life of this country."

Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to a man he called "goodness personified".

"He did much to inspire people of all faiths, and none.

"He made an incalculable contribution to the Catholic Church. Around the world there are people who will miss him deeply and remember him for the extraordinary good that he did."

'Simplicity, holiness'

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "We worked together closely and productively for many years and throughout that time my respect, admiration and affection for him have grown."

Religious Correspondent Andrew Burroughs: "A most remarkable man"
Basil Hume, a monk for nearly 60 years, was abbot of the Benedictine community at Ampleforth in Yorkshire before being appointed archbishop of Westminster in March 1976.

Two months later he was made a cardinal by the Pope.

He was widely regarded by Catholics, by Christians of other denominations, and by people with no religious faith, as a man of simplicity and holiness.

Last year the Pope rejected his offer to resign when he reached 75.

His time at Westminster has seen Catholicism strengthening its links with other churches and faiths, and playing a greater part in national life.

Funeral arrangements

The funeral Mass and burial of Cardinal Hume will take place on 25 June at Westminster Cathedral.

The body will be brought into the cathedral hall on Monday, where it will lie in state from 9am to 7.30pm for three days.

On Thursday afternoon, the body will be taken up Ambrosden Avenue to the cathedral, where the reception and evening prayer for the dead will take place at 5pm.

There will be a series of vigils of prayer thoroughout the evening until around 8.30pm, for people to pay their respects to the Cardinal.

The funeral Mass and burial will take place on Friday at 11am in the cathedral.

There will also be a memorial mass for the Cardinal at a time yet to be decided.

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