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Cardinal: disestablishment would benefit the Church of England

By on Friday, 24 August 2012

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor outside Westminster Cathedral (Photo: Mazur/

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor outside Westminster Cathedral (Photo: Mazur/

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has said that disestablishment would benefit the Church of England.

The Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, who turns 80 today, made the comment in a frank and wide-ranging interview with The Catholic Herald.

The cardinal said: “People often ask me: ‘Do you think the Church of England should be disestablished?’ I say: ‘I think it will be. But it’s not for us to ask for it.’ They must decide when they think it’s better, for the sake of the Gospel, to be disestablished.”

Asked if he supported disestablishment, he said: “I think it will happen and I think it might be of benefit to Anglicans if it did at some point. They obviously think that at the moment it’s an advantage to them, and I respect that. But I think it will change with time.”

The cardinal’s 80th birthday will be celebrated with a Mass of Thanksgiving in Westminster Cathedral on Friday September 21. From today he retires from his offices in the Curia, and will no longer vote in a papal conclave.

In the interview, he recalled attending the conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope. He said that, when Cardinal Ratzinger was asked what name he would take, he immediately said “Benedict”. “I think every cardinal had a name up his sleeve just in case,” he said.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor revealed that he had three names in mind.

The full interview is available in this week’s Catholic Herald, which can be read online or on paper.

  • nytor

    The moment we have been waiting for for years has arrived! Maybe now we will have better bishops appointed.

  • MCarroll

    Nothing against the man on a personal level but, thank goodness he has gone.

    Time to get rid of Nichols now before he damages the Catholic Church in this country any further.

  • nytor

    Hear hear. Although alas, given Nichols’ age, that won’t be for a while.

  • andreagregorio

    Deo Gratias!  I remember hearing the news that he had been made a Bishop with disbelief, then an Archbishop and then a Cardinal!  As Bette Davis said in a different context: ‘I only speak good about those who’ve gone’  He’s gone.  Good!’  He mentions Ratzinger’s election – pity he didn’t recall his slip on air when he said ‘Oh, they, (oops), ….. Ratzinger was elected’.  That says it all as to his Theology and Churchmanship!  

  • John Kearney

    I do not believe Cardinal Murphy-O`Connor has tried to infuence these appointments.  We have for example Bishop Egan being appointed to Portsmouth.  And guess what the bureacrats have lined up for him – a talk on the Spirit of Vatican II by Fr Gerry O`Collins.

  • Mike Bizzaro

    Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is absolutely *rejecting* the Catholic Sources of Dogma on Salvation, of the Catholic God … in his fabrication that “It’s not for us to say” (about the disestablishment of heretical societies).

    This, of course, causes Murphy-O’Connor to be *automatically* excommunicated from the Catholic Church … *even though* he is dressed up like a Catholic bishop.

    Some Infallible Dogma of the Holy Spirit that Murphy-O’Connor is spitting upon …
    (From … Section 1 of

    Council of Florence, Session 8, Pope Eugene IV, 22 Nov 1439 — Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
    “Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the Catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally.”

    Vatican Council of 1870, Session 2, Pope Pius IX — Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
    “This true Catholic Faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath.”

    Council of Trent, Pope Pius IV, Iniunctum nobis, 13 Nov 1565 — Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
    “This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved … I now profess and truly hold …”

  • nytor

    I think he has. Look at Wrexham, for instance, and look at what he is reputed to have said about Bishop Davies (although I know he denied it, he may have said something similar obliquely). He’s an English cardinal on the Congregation for Bishops – of course they asked him when an English see was in the offing!!

  • David Lindsay

    The sheer objectionable nature of a church whose doctrine was whatever the Crown, and so eventually the Crown in Parliament, said it was at the given time, has been an enormous force for the creation in this country of a pluralistic society, and thus by necessity a representative democratic political system.

    Without it, there would have been neither the Nonconformist Conscience, because there would have been no Nonconformists, nor Catholic Emancipation, because Rome really was a long way away in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so some accommodation really would have been reached by those who still felt themselves Catholics, as if feelings mattered here, and who would consequently have had no need of Emancipation in 1829.

    Those agitating for disestablishment wish the State to repudiate its basis in Christianity. That must be resisted without any compromise whatever.

  • Apostolic

    In all charity, he was a man promoted well beyond his ability, and he build on the tragic legacy of his predecessor at Westminster. He is to be congratulated on reaching his 80th birthday, and on losing his ability to vote in the College of Cardinals.

  • Sweetjae

    A Sedevacantist, as usual believing in his human ability of what Tradition or the Bible truly says!

  • JabbaPapa

    Sorry, rubbish.

  • MrCravat

     The Church of England has been unable to be the Guardian of the Nations soul since the ’70s and is imploding whilst it dithers over own goals like Women Bishop,Gay Marriages and seems more interested in propping up it’s multi billion pound Pension fund whilst the pews continue to empty..

    Christianity is thriving outside of Europe and Disestablishment would allow the Church of England the right to chose it’s own direction by either thriving or survive.

    It’s relevance and influence declines by the week and the Archbishop(s) of Canterbury has constantly failed to stand up for Christians who are under attack from aggressive secular by the media.

    Their presence is the House of Lords is a disgrace and have no right in my opinion to sit in the upper house and legislate on Parliamentary law without being elected…like the other Lords,some of whom are convicted criminals and tax exiles!

    I’ve left the CoE after terms as a PCC after seeing it as nothing more than a moribund,middle class( wannabe) social club and far from inclusive,the exact opposite as “exclusive” among it’s ever dwindling congregations.

    Those Churches taken by King Henry V111 are now albatrosses and like a noose around its neck, and many of the Grade 1 listed building are only kept open thanks to English Heritage..

    I fully agree with Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor that the CoE should be Disestablished…preferably by it’s own choosing,though I expect it to happen within 10 years..

  • Parasum

    Nonconformity in England is the result of not agreeing with the Established Church’s Christianity – it would have happened anyway. Catholics call non-conformity (“Nonconformity”  being a proper name) heresy or dissent. Criticising the CC for occasioning non-conformity is convincing only if the same attitude to the Church in Catholic countries is criticised. Spanish Evangelicals in the 16th century were no better off than Non-conformists in England: Puritan, Catholic, or “other”.  All Henry VIII did was to take royal control of the Church a step or two further than it had been taken in Spain, France, the Holy Roman Empire, or the German principalities. The French Church was as good as nationalised by the Concordat of Bologna in 1516. Royal desire to control the Church in a realm pre-dated the 16th century – the notion of reducing the Church to a sort of Department for Public Cult goes back to the 14th century, maybe earlier. It is a fantasy to imagine that all pre-Reformation Latin Christendom was fervently pro-Roman – it wasn’t; the situation is more complex than that. 

    “Those agitating for disestablishment wish the State to repudiate its basis in Christianity. That must be resisted without any compromise whatever.”

    ## For the sake of the freedom of the Churches to be Christian, disestablishment *might* be a good thing. There are several arguable views. The C of E can be infuriating at times, but it is perhaps better than nothing. I don’t think it is any more annoying or unChristian than the CC. Maybe the wrong is at times not in the C of E, but in its critics.

  • Parasum

     That’s not a very convincing rejoinder to the OP’s position, though :)

  • Kevin

    An interesting and serious question for Murphy-O’Connor would be to ask him how he feels about believing Catholics who, through his period in office, have been unable to recognise in him a co-religionist. Does he, for example, think they are in danger of Hell for this, on the basis that there is no salvation outside the church to which Murphy-O’Connor belongs?

  • Gildaswiseman

    What would truly benefit the adherents of the Church of England is a wholesale return to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from which outside there is ‘No Salvation’. Why the Cyprian formula and doctrine of the Church has become such a stumbling block for so many Catholics is tragic. It is a doctrine that of course must be understood as the Church means it to be understood. St. Robert Bellarmine described this formula beautifully.
     The difficulty for many faithful Catholics is the modern approach of Ecumenism and Religious Liberty that appears to contradict the pre Vatican 11 teaching on these issues. Mortalium Animos being just one such teaching.Other confirmations of this teaching have been well illustrated on this site, despite disagreement regarding sedevacantism.
     There have been so many accounts where potential converts have been advised to stay with their own faith communities in order to further the cause of ecumenism. I know personally one man who was told by the local Catholic Bishop to do just that. He did not heed this advice and eventually became a Catholic and a wonderful Priest. 

  • Khalid Shahzad

         Urgent Appeal.

    The convention was adopted in 2006 and came into force in
    May 2008. It was signed by Pakistan
    less than four months later, in September 2008. Judging by Islamabad`s record
    of tardiness in taking notice of international human rights instruments, except
    for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it displayed unusual speed in
    signing the convention on the disabled.

    But there is nothing unusual in the government’s lack of interest in
    follow-up measures, and this attitude is the main factor in the denial of the
    benefits of the international human rights system to the people of Pakistan.

    Violence against children is huge
    problem world wide an estimated 53000 children aged 0 -17 were murdered in 2002
    and about 150 million girls and 73 million boys thought to have been sexually


    Globally at least 93 million
    children have moderate or severe disabilities. Children with

    Are through to have a substantially
    greater risk of being victims of violence then non disable peers. Establishment
    of reliable of scale the problem is an essential first step in the development of
    effective prevention of the person with disabilities.


    Violence against children with
    disabilities world wide 5% of children about 93 million aged 0-14 have moderate
    or severe disabilities.



     11 year old Christian girl with Down
    syndrome(Mentally Disable) named Rimsha daughter of Misrak Masih, resident of
    Umara Jaffar, sector G12/0 Islamabad, has been falsely accused of burning 10 pages of the Quran.
    She was arrested on August 17 by the women police station with the FIR no as
    303/12 at 6:45
    pm. The complainants name is Alsyed
    Muhammd Ummad.


    The reason for this differences including societal stigma,
    religious discrimination, negative traditional beliefs and ignorance of
    minorities rights made Rismisha  as
    religious victim in the History of the world.



    Govt should realize Remisha as soon as possible without any trial and

     Should act according to The
    Declaration on the rights of disable person, proclaimed  By U N General assembly on 9th December 1975.

    To respect for their human dignity

    [to] the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens …
    [to] the same civil and political rights as other human beings …
    [to] measures designed to enable them to become as self-reliant as possible …

    to medical, psychological and functional treatment [and]
    to develop their capabilities and skills to the maximum [and]
    hasten the processes of their social integration or reintegration …

    to economic and social security and to a decent level of living …

    according to their capabilities, to secure and retain employment
    or to engage in a useful, productive and remunerative occupation
    and to join trade unions [and] to have their special needs taken into
    consideration at all stages of economic and social planning …

    to live with their families or with foster parents and to
    participate in all
    social, creative or recreational activities [and not to] be subjected, as far
    as his or her residence is concerned, to differential treatment other than
    that required by his or her condition



    Thank you very much.


    Khalid Shahzad




    Dorothea center for special children


    4/G, New G T Road Farukhabad Ghati Shahdara Lahore.



    Phone:0092 0423 7917854


    Cell No: 0092.0321 4263793

  • gabriel_syme

     +Davies for Westminster!

  • Basil Loftus

    One of his great successes was to bring Tony Blair into the Church.

    Surely a case for the ordination of married men?

  • Alan

    Nasty comments like this are quite unacceptable, and the rudeness of yourself (and others) on this site towards our bishops is, I would suggest, totally unCatholic.  I hope Vincent gets the red hat very soon; it is absurd that England & Wales currently has nobody eligible for a conclave, while Italy, with probably no more practising Catholics than England and Wales, has dozens.

  • John Wilson

     This fellow Jabba Papa is a well known irritant on Catholic sites. You have noted his inadequate response  above. “Rubbish” indeed.

  • James

     I find hard to take such a comment seriously!
    How was “bringing Tony Blair into the Church” a great success?
    Perhaps you need to learn more about the crucial role of clerical celibacy!

  • Basil Loftus


    In forming the Tont Blair Faith Movement he is the only Prime Minister who ever took religion seriously and  established the Catholic Church as his home.

  • Alan

    What a nasty comment.  What “tragic legacy”?  Basil Hume was a great man who brought the Catholic Church in England and Wales out of the fringes and into the mainstream of British life.  Cormac was not good at PR, but was perfectly sound otherwise.  I look forward to a speedy promotion for Vince Nichols.

  • Alan

    If there is any contradiction with pre-Vatican II teaching (which I dispute), then the pre-Vatican II teaching was wrong.  “No salvation outside the Church” does not mean that paid-up membership is a sine qua non, though there was a time when most Catholics thought it did mean that.  Encyclicals like Mortalium Animos were of their time.

  • Apostolic

    The collapse of general practice, including vocations, the covert subversion of church teaching on essential doctrines, such as the male priesthood…The best way we can honour the late cardinal is to recognise these facts. From his perspective that is the best way that these errors can be undone and the Church be served.

  • Apostolic

    Vatican II was of its time, like Cuban heels, Ford Capris, big-collared shirts and flared trousers. Time to return to the Church of the Ages, not of a particular age, and steer a steady course.

  • Apostolic

    It really is true that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

  • Apostolic

    Catholic bishops would be better and would make a pleasant change (apart from +Mark Davies and +Egan)!

  • Apostolic

    “Late” as in deceased; the other still has time…

  • Gildaswiseman

    St Paul teaches us “that though we have the faith of an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached you, let him be anathema. (Gal 1:8) Jesus Christ yesterday, and today, and the same forever,
    ‘I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’. 
    ‘I profess one baptism for the remission of sin’.
    Infallible doctrines cannot change from one age to another. It is a modernist proposition to suggest it can and has been rightly condemned by the teaching authority of the Church over the ages.
    It is true that doctrine can be better understood and explained in a pastoral sense but the essential truth of the dogma must remain this case the Church of Christ, His Mystical Body is the Catholic Church.They are one and the same thing and from which, as has always been taught as a matter of Doctrine.’There is No Salvation Outside of It. All who profess the Catholic faith must believe this or else sadly they are in danger of committing heresy.
    The contradictions emanating from Vatican 11are well researched and documented. They are there to be seen by any discerning person. 

  • Alan

    Of course infallible doctrines, by definition, cannot change.  The “no salvation outside the Church” doctrine means that the Church, but not necessarily individual and visible membership of it, is necessary for salvation.  This is explained in para. 846 of the catechism.

  • Alan

    There is absolutely no reason to suppose the “collapse in vocations” etc. was anything to do with Basil Hume; it has been a general trend throughout the Western world, due to secular/sociological forces.  As for your suggestion that he “subverted” teachings like the male priesthood, this is nonsense.  He always publicly upheld Church teachings, as it was his duty to do.  Maybe he had private disagreements, I do not know; but I suspect most clergy and hierarchy have private disagreements on some matters, without making them public.

  • Jimin Kang

    Surely the Conclave is not some form of proportional representation. One glance at German political arrangements and the fruit born thereof will assure you that that is not how it is meant to be for the Conclave. Does anyone else find it amusing how he is so valiantly guarding Archbishop Vin and the wonders and miracles he has worked over the years and yet it is also completely within his “pay-grade” to dare to comment on the appointments made by the Holy Father in such an “unCatholic” tone. Perhaps this gentleman might like to clearly define for us what he means by “unCatholic”? Although I seem to have a fairly good idea about it.

    Oh by the way, I suppose your idea of Catholic requires a bishop to turn a blind eye on a group of people using a rainbow flag as a liturgical fitting?

  • Jimin Kang

    Not to mention “holding one’s tongue” prudently about some “certain” issues?

  • srdc

    The church is the correct interpreter of both tradition and scripture. 

    Florence’s decree that no one outside the Catholic Church is saved is absolutely true in the sense that those who lack any and all connection to the Church are damned. But it is possible to have an invisible link to the Church. Being in the Church does not require full, formal communion.This was the understanding of St. Thomas Aquinas, who spoke of being in the Church in voto (in desire) rather than in re (in reality), and of the Council of Trent, which taught that we can be justified and consequently saved by water baptism or a desire for it.This applies to non-Catholics, on the other hand, Catholics who fully know that this is the church established by Jesus Christ, but leave it knowing this with full consent cannot be saved. The reasons however are important here, rather than just being in a state of mental duress etc.

  • John Wilson

     He is a war criminal and a Catholic. Nothing new there.

  • Macurq

     It is useful to have  an established church – whether Anglican, Catholic, Sunni or Shia.  I have lived in Spain for 45 years and have seen the disestablishment of a church make that church IRRELEVANT.  A society needs certain fixed points: identity (nation or language), family (extended rather than nuclear), generally accepted morality (marriage and behaviour) and a religion (be it what you will).  Though these concepts are not immutable they produce peace and harmony; though dissidents are always welcome and lead to serious debate. 

  • Alan

    I’m afraid your comments are a bit too elliptical for me to understand.  What comments on the Holy Father’s appointments?  What “certain issues”?  What I meant by “UnCatholic” is simply showing a total lack of respect for our bishops, even if we disagree with them on occasion.  Such as remarks like “thank goodness he’s gone” and “time to get rid of Nichols”.

  • Alfonse

    this is the man that hid ‘Father Hill’ and moved him several times before he was finally arrested and imprisoned. It’s odd that people forget.

    He also encouraged a seminarian (in his 5th year) to have sexual relations with other men to ‘get it out of his system’. The seminarian left and now lives with a man.

  • JabbaPapa

    “No salvation outside the Church” is frequently understood backwards.

    The doctrine really means that the Church, and by this it’s the Celestial Church being referred to, is the Assembly of *all* of the saved.

    That is to say that all of the saved are inside the Church — including such that were saved by God prior to the birth of Christ, for example.

    It means that you cannot be saved by God, and then somehow remain outside the Celestial Church.

    It’s a doctrine about the nature of salvation, not a doctrine claiming that all non-Catholics are damned without exception, particularly as this last suggestion would contradict doctrine, and is probably heretical.

  • JabbaPapa

    Sorry, but that’s just plain silly.

  • Basil Loftus

    We all have our faults and it was remarkable how candid the Cardinal was regarding his own mistakes.

  • JabbaPapa

    Ah ! A fan !!

    “rubbish” is really all that it deserves.

    The claims against Cardinal Murphy O’Connor are not just false and openly rebellious, but they make reference to a poorly digested understanding of doctrine, leading this man to imagine himself as more catholic than a Cardinal.

    I’d detail exactly *why* the doctrines have been misundrstood by that person, but then of course my loyal fan base will start sending me messages about that instead.

  • JabbaPapa


  • Apostolic

    Horrifying. Says it all.

  • Apostolic

    John Wilson sounds horrifying, but equally does Basil Loftus. The Rev. Phony Tony is an example of a scandalously instructed convert. His instructor is far more to blame than he is.

  • teigitur

    Its Mgr Loftus, I would not take anything he says seriously. Very sad.

  • teigitur

    Oh please…………!

  • Basil Loftus

    And name calling isn’t horrifying?
    Tony Blair deserves respect & Christian Fellowship.