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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK


Queen leads tributes to Hume

Cardinal Basil Hume: "Held in high regard"

The Queen, the prime minister and religious leaders have led the tributes to Cardinal Basil Hume.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell reports on tributes from royalty, politicians and religious leaders
Cardinal Hume died on Thursday after losing his fight with cancer.

A Buckingham 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."

Tony Blair said: "He was goodness personified, a truly holy man with extraordinary humility and an unswerving dedication.

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"Around the world there are people who will miss him deeply and remember him for the extraordinary good that he did."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "I have learnt of the death of Cardinal Basil Hume with profound sadness.

"He was rightly held in high regard for the leadership he gave the Roman Catholic Church, and for his dedication to the cause of ecumenicism.

"But for many ordinary people - Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers - it was his personal qualities, especially his humility and compassion, that gave him a special place in their hearts."

Exceptional person

He added: "Although he has not been well for some time, Cardinal Hume bore his final illness with a courage, dignity and acceptance which were typical of the man we knew, loved and respected."

The Duchess of Kent, a recent convert to Catholicism and a friend of the late cardinal, paid her respects.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "The Duchess of Kent said tonight that it had been a privilege to have got to know Cardinal Hume as a friend whose whole life bore witness to his extraordinary qualities."

Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe, who converted to Catholicism in 1993, said: "I was very privileged to know the cardinal and he was instrumental in my decision.

"His death is a very sad loss to Roman Catholicism."

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The Rev Ernest Rea, head of BBC religious programmes, said: "Cardinal Hume had a rare ability to communicate holiness through the broadcast media."

Tory party chairman Michael Ancram, a close friend of the cardinal who was taught by him as a boy, described him as an "exceptional person".

Mr Ancram said: "Cardinal Hume was a man who combined great spirituality with the warmest humanity.

"He was a leader who led by example, a friend who always left his friends feeling better, and a stalwart in the fight against injustice.

"He was loved by his friends and respected by all who knew him. He will be missed by people of all religions."

Dr William Oddie, editor of the Catholic Herald, said Catholics across the country would feel "sunk" by the loss.

He described Cardinal Hume as "simply and English gentleman", saying: "There can be no question of replacing him because he was irreplaceable."

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