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BBC Scotland's Alexandra MacKenzie reports
"Cardinal Winning was born in Motherwell, the son of a miner and steelworker"
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Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Scotland's 'Cardinal Controversy'
Cardinal Winning
Cardinal Winning spoke out on abortion
Cardinal Thomas Winning, Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic, was, as his nickname suggests, not unaccustomed to heated public debate.

In recent times "Cardinal Controversy" found himself under fire for a range of issues.

He was strongly against abortion and criticised Tony Blair for his stance on abortion and Boots the chemist for giving condoms to teenagers

He was also an opponent of the increasing availability of the morning after pill

The controversy over the repeal of Section 28, the law outlawing the promotion of homosexuality in schools, saw Cardinal Winning at his most forthright.

The cardinal compared homosexuality to a physical handicap and fiercely opposed the Scottish Executive plan to repeal Section 28.

Cardinal Winning, who was 76 when he died, was unapologetic for his forthright nature: "I get letters from people saying I shouldn't meddle in politics.

"I let my conscience and my instincts guide me."

He told a newspaper interviewer: "I don't do it to get a kick out of it. I do it because it's the right thing for me to do.

"When the country stops paying attention to what the church is saying, then we really are in a bad way.

Cardinal Winning with baby
Cardinal Winning was known for speaking his mind
"To be able to put forward the Christian viewpoint in a way that makes people think, I regard that as a role I have in society."

The son of a miner and steel worker who lost his job during the Depression, Thomas Winning grew up in Motherwell.

"Being Catholic wasn't always convenient," he recalled.

"There was one part of the main street down to the school where you were apt to be caught by the jersey and asked if you were a Protestant or a Catholic.

Pope's visit

"Many's the time I denied my faith to get to school on time."

In December 1998, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest after studying at the Scots College in Rome.

He took his vows in St John Lateran's Basilica, the Pope's own cathedral.

One of the high points in his lifetime came in 1982, when the Pope's visit to Scotland was set to be cancelled because of the Falklands War.

But Archbishop Winning worked behind the scenes and the trip was saved when the Pope decided to visit Argentina as well as Scotland.

The resulting gathering at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow was the biggest gathering of Scottish Catholics.

In 1994, he became a cardinal - only the second cardinal resident in Scotland since the Reformation.

Thousands of pilgrims travelled to Rome for the occasion, during which the Pope said: "You have always been what is called a man of the people."

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17 Jun 01 | Scotland
Catholic leader Thomas Winning dies
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