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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Cardinal Winning: Your thoughts on his death
Cardinal Thomas Winning, the most prominent Roman Catholic leader in Scotland, has died.
The cardinal, who was 76, died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Glasgow home on Sunday.
The Pope described him as a "man of the people", and the Queen said: "He made a very distinguished contribution to the Catholic Church in Scotland and to Scottish public life over many years and he will be much missed."
Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was shocked and saddened by the news, and Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish said: "The nation will miss Tom Winning. I will miss him. Scotland has lost one of her greatest sons."
But the cardinal was a controversial figure who aroused great admiration in his followers, and disdain among the detractors who found his views on a wide range of issues like homosexuality and abortion unpalatable.
We asked you how you would remember Cardinal Thomas Winning and what your thoughts on his death were. This is what you had to say:
For all those who have gloried in his death, I say the words I am sure he would have - Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Bless you cardinal, for you were a man who stuck to your guns. A man who told the world what you believed in, no matter how uncomfortable it made some people feel (myself included). In this world of spin, you were the opposite. For your honesty, above all else, you will be missed.
Elizabeth Stewart, Middlesborough, England
If the good Cardinal's opinions in his latter years are representative of the Christian faith, then I thank my parents for not indoctrinating me in his view of Christian principles.
I was deeply saddened and shocked at the death of Cardinal Thomas Joseph Winning. I first saw the cardinal when he became Archbishop of Glasgow in the 1970's. He came to visit the Glasgow school where I was a pupil, and visited each class individually. He was very much a "man of the people" because he was one of them.
He was true to his Catholic Faith, had a profound sense of social justice, love for the poor, upholder of the rights of the unborn child to life, and family values. In many respects he was a "voice crying in the wilderness", to echo a description of St John the Baptist. I shall miss him for his presence in my native land as the senior Catholic cleric and as a man who was not afraid to take the message of Christianity to the frontiers. Requiescat in pace.
I find it perfectly possible to "hate the sin but love the sinner", a phrase used by religions to avoid the consequences of their actions all too often. Clearly I feel sorrow at the passing of any human life, and feel I should try to respect any sincere belief.
However, I would have asked Cardinal Winning for a reciprocal appreciation and endorsement of life, and a similar level of respect for human emotion and circumstances.
To make judgements and scapegoats in the name of "morality" or religion, as he did, is "sinful" in its own terms: it is upon his victims to forgive him, not me. It is too late for many. I would have severely criticised him in life; I do so now. And, I guess, on behalf of the "silent majority" who care little for his opinions and hope we've heard the last of them.
A sad, sad time for the church in Scotland. It will be very hard to replace him. A true prince of the church. May his soul rest in peace.
We have to remember that as people age, they tend to seek comfort in their long held beliefs and become set in their ways, often with no regard to present day realities, and I feel that's the case here. But he has passed now, and he should be mourned and praised for what he did accomplish in this life, not belittled. Rest In Peace, Cardinal, your work here is done.
Well, as a modern Scot and a Catholic, I have to admit to being torn between feeling grief, and being honest about the fact that I lost a lot of respect for him in the past few years anyway. I say this as someone who has met Cardinal Winning on a few occasions, and found him to be very friendly and pleasant. Which I find very hard to square with his increasingly "firebrand" image of the past few years. And not only myself, but family members and friends, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have been for some years wondering what's been going on.
The comment last year about the "gay lifestyle" being "perverted" was merely the final straw. (Indeed a Sunday Herald poll showed that most Scots polled disagreed with it, and amongst Catholics alone, the figure was actually slightly higher...)
Also, I've been seeing a cynical reaction to some of the obituaries, which I just didn't see with the death of Donald Dewar. Not from mythical "gay militants" or "political correct liberals", but ordinary people. Uncharitable? Probably. But one has to ask why this is the case, when if this was, say, five years ago, I don't think there would have been this level of cynicism. It certainly poisons attitudes to the good work he undoubtedly did. Even fairly balanced news reports dub him "Cardinal Controversy".
Don't get me wrong. I regret his passing, but I regret more the passing of what he used to be, and the fact that he can now never come back.
I have known the cardinal for some considerable time and would consider him my friend. We had travelled, eaten and worked together. In spite of his very busy schedule he always gave his time to listen and take part in whatever project you were asking. Even in his seventies he found it difficult to say NO. He would have lived much longer had he been selfish. Very few people would give of themselves to the common man as he did.
Your eminence, you were a winner here on earth, I pray that you are Winning in heaven with the angels. Rest in peace.
Those who vilify him should know that they too will one day have to give account before God. I pray that on that day he will hear "Well done, you good and faithful servant."
As a friend of Cardinal Winning I am deeply upset by his passing. We have lost a good Scotsman and ambassador for the church. May he rest in peace.
Dear Father - I never met you but I feel bereft. God bless you.
Cardinal Winning was a personal friend of my wife and I for many years. We ate together, talked together and travelled together. Like all men he had his faults, but his outstanding love for others, including homosexuals, outweighed his minor faults. If you had known him as we knew him, you would not criticise him for speaking the truth. He was truly a giant among men. We loved him dearly.
Isabel Stalker, South Africa
He was entitled to live in the past in a blinkered world. He cared nothing for the offence his opinions caused to Christian gay men or women - or indeed, the many gay clergy serving in the real world.
I'm glad to see that the views published on this site reflect a diversity of views. Cardinal Winning grew up with stigma and abuse because he was part of a minority in his community, but he could never apply that experience to the young lesbian gay and bisexual people who are subject to bullying and prejudice in our society. He made no effort to reach out to my community as equals.
Thank you, dear Cardinal Winning, for the inspiration you have given me these last few years. I hope and pray that I will be as caring and courageous as you in proclaiming the Truth when I become a priest.
My Catholic family are grateful to Cardinal Winning for standing up for the truth against the politically correct fanatics and the militant homosexual lobby. He has been an inspiration. The lack of charity of some of your correspondents speaks volumes.
As a Scot living in France I was shocked to hear about the death of the cardinal. My heart goes out to his family who will have to deal with his death like so many of us have done with our loved ones. But, as a homosexual I feel no sorrow for his passing. His beliefs were unfair to the human race.
Jonathan Rogers, UK
It is sad that on an occasion such as this, there are some people who can only find bitter words about Cardinal Winning. One of his greatest strengths was that he stood up for what he believed in whether or not people approved. He only sought the approval of the God he served.
I can think of no better summary of the Cardinal's life than Christ's own words in Mt.5:11,12: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
In the light of all that he suffered, I am sure that Cardinal Winning will have more than enough reason to "rejoice and be glad". From those who love and respect you, Rest in Peace.
It takes guts to be uncompromising on certain issues and principles. Cardinal Winning could raise hackles, but he was always a welcome relief from the "warm-fuzzy" relativism of other religious leaders.
Farewell your eminence, you are going to your paradise. Rest in peace.
He was a man of conviction and integrity - who had the courage of his convictions. His willingness to speak out clearly on issues like abortion and homosexuality, instead of fudging these issues attracted much admiration from Catholics and non-Catholics (like me!) alike. He will be sorely missed by many on both sides of the Border.
I am dismayed by the, quite frankly, rude comments made on the death of Cardinal Winning. I disagreed with many things that Thomas Winning said and believed, but I respect him for being honest about his beliefs. He helped many in need and gave the Catholic Church a voice even if people did not always agree with it.
I may not agree with those who lead any faiths, but I would never resort to cheap insults on the death of such a leader, who, for whatever faults they may have, still leave family and friends behind them who at this moment are grieving. In the end, religious or not, forgiveness is the greatest gift any of us can bestow.
I met Cardinal Winning when I was on the staff of the Catholic Radio and TV Centre at Hatch End. He struck me as a man at ease with himself and those around him and gifted with very keen insight. Although I have been away from GB for many years, I know there will be great sadness at his passing.
May Cardinal Winning rest in peace. He fought tirelessly for proper moral values in a world that has few. It should be remembered that although he was against such things as contraception and practising homosexuality, he cared about and loved those who used/did such things. He hated the sin, but loved the sinner.
My mother grew up in Craigneuk and knew "Tommy" well. Indeed it is true that he never forgot his roots. Even back then he had a wonderful manner with members of his own faith. My mother fondly remembered his devout passion for Catholicism which somehow stopped him from showing compassion to all. Sorry, were you expecting praise? A saint he was not. Catholics like myself should speak out for human compassion and hope that the cardinal's successor in Glasgow is more geared up for life in the 21st century. My family deserves better from a church we have staunchly supported. Rest in peace.
I have no religious beliefs, however I do have much more moral conscience than Mr Winning ever had. Religion and morals are not mutually exclusive and the sooner the churches recognise this, the better.
I wish, Cardinal Winning was born in Ireland. We will always miss you cardinal.
Clare Ashton, UK
Cardinal Winning did his best to continue the entrenched, narrow-minded, illiberal sentiments that have kept Scotland in the Middle Ages. Although his faith is not in doubt, his attitude to modern problems is at odds with the reality that fellow Scots at home and abroad meet day to day.
Having had to leave Scotland to find work as I suffered discrimination in the mid 1980s, his hard-line made Scotland unlikely to see the return of so many of her sons and daughters.
The column in today's Daily Telegraph gave the best description of him as "too socialist for New Labour, too conservative for the Conservatives, too internationalist for the nationalists and too Christian for any of them". His willingness to speak out on many vital issues showed a conscience and awareness lacking in most politicians as well as offending the self righteous politically correct groups.
He was a great man who will be sadly missed. His pro-life, pro-family views will not die with him. He spoke for very many people throughout the UK. He was a compassionate and kind man who was only standing up for what he believed in. This country, which he loved, is a lesser place without him. May he rest in peace.
Cardinal Winning made a great impression on anyone he met his combination of warmth, faith, intelligence, moral strength and wit are not often found in such abundance in one individual. He will be missed by all who ever knew him. Rest in peace cardinal.
Gerry Gallen, S.J., England
Thomas Winning was a fantastic servant of God. His criticism of Boots The Chemist for selling condoms to teenagers, and indeed of all contraception, was spot-on. I'm sure that there will be many unwanted, unloved children who will thank him in the future.
I'll always remember him as "Father Winning", a family friend of long standing. When I was three he gave me a Christmas present in his red ceremonial robes, and it dawned on me why he was called "Father" - after St Nicholas! He will be sadly missed by all the MacTaggart family, both here in the UK and abroad in South Africa.
I am not remotely sorry to hear of the death of Cardinal Winning. His campaigns against gay people have been disgusting and quite un-Christian.
The press reports and tributes since the cardinal's death seem to paint a picture of a universally loved figure; "The people's priest" as the Daily Record puts it. Thomas Winning was not some Diana figure, rather he was regarded by many, Scottish Catholics like myself included, as a dinosaur. Rather than eulogising this controversial figure, Scots should be looking to the future and praying for a Scottish cardinal who can unite his people and in so doing reverse plummeting church attendances.
I will remember Thomas Winning as the man who on one hand had a most remarkable social conscience for issues like poverty and on the other was a man out of step with modern life. His achievements for me are shadowed by his appalling "cash for babies" scheme and for continuing to argue against contraception and homosexuality when both are, in reality, commonplace amongst both parishioners and the catholic clergy itself. Time to pay respect to the man but also to bury some of his tired values with him.
Cardinal Winning, a wonderful example of how we should all lead our lives, not afraid to speak his mind, he spoke from the heart. The church in Scotland will greatly miss his gentle hand of example. We were lucky to have him. Rest in peace cardinal.
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