By Anna Arco
11 December 2009
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has turned down a seat in the House of Lords after consulting with the Holy See and his fellow bishops.
The Cardinal would have been the first Catholic bishop to sit alongside the bishops of the Church of England if he had accepted the Government’s offer of a peerage, but declined after talks with the Vatican. Gordon Brown has been eager to see other religious leaders sitting in the House of Lords and its members include the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks who received a peerage earlier this year.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, the Cardinal said: “I did consult widely with bishops, the Holy See and members of the House of Lords. Ultimately it was my decision to turn down the kind invitation of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.”
While some bishops urged him to take the seat on the grounds that they believed it could gain the Catholic Church more prominence and power in the public sphere, others argued that such a decision would contravene canon law.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was asked to join the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples at the end of October. In the Congregation of Bishops, he will have the power to vote on candidates for sees around the world.
The Cardinal said: “Nearly seven months into my retirement and with two new busy posts in Rome, it would be very difficult to combine these two new roles with a seat in the House of Lords. In my retirement, I would hope to continue my service to the universal Church in the new responsibilities that I’ve been given.”