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



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, June 18, 1999 Published at 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK


UK

The search for Hume's successor

The new archbishop will be chosen by Rome

By News Online's Alex Kirby

No-one at Westminster cathedral or in Archbishop's House will talk of a possible successor to Basil Hume.

They have a cardinal, and a friend, to mourn and to bury first.

But inevitably, in the wider church and beyond, thoughts now turn to the next archbishop of Westminster and leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales.

Whoever the next archbishop is, he will almost certainly later be made a cardinal. But that is a separate matter.

Choosing Hume's successor may take several months, and the decision will be taken by the Pope, who appoints every Catholic bishop and archbishop.

A demanding specification

Church law says a candidate must be not less than 35 years old and have been a priest for at least five years. He must be "held in good esteem", and learned in scripture, theology or the church's legal system.


[ image: Westminster cathedral awaits a new man]
Westminster cathedral awaits a new man
And he must be "outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues".

The apostolic nuncio (the Pope's ambassador to a country) takes soundings and then draws up a list of three names. He gives this, with his own opinions, to the Pope, who may choose one candidate or ask for new names. The entire process is secret.

The nuncio in Britain, Archbishop Pablo Puente, is reported to have no clear candidate in mind at this stage.

Congregation strength

One factor he will bear in mind is the church's need to stem its loss in numbers. In the 10 years from 1988, attendance at Sunday mass fell by 6%.

Few of the serving bishops are under 60 years old, which may count against the older men. Among the names most often discussed is Patrick Kelly, the archbishop of Liverpool, a Catholic stronghold.

Another, said to have been Basil Hume's chosen candidate, is Vincent Nicholls, who is 55. He is auxiliary bishop of north London, part of the Westminster diocese.

But the nuncio may look outside the ranks of the bishops themselves - Basil Hume was not a bishop when he was summoned to Westminster, but abbot of Ampleforth.

Some believe a possible successor is the present abbot, Timothy Wright. And the head of the Dominican order, Timothy Radcliffe, is also mentioned as a charismatic contender.

But the nuncio may feel that what Westminster needs is not another monk, but someone schooled in the ups and downs of ordinary parish life. And if he does, that could mean a surprising choice.



Advanced options | Search tips




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


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

17 Jun 99 | UK
Roman Catholic leader Hume dies

17 Jun 99 | UK
Queen leads tributes to Hume





Internet Links


The Catholic Church in England and Wales

The Vatican


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