Saturday, March 15, 2008

The English Cardinals

On Sunday 9th March, Fr Nicholas Schofield talked to Forum Christi on The English Cardinals (which is also the title of a book he has recently co-written with Fr Gerard Skinner). The talk was a look at some of the 50 English cardinals that there have been over the years, and included some well- known names, for example Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Newman, as well as lesser known figures. Fr Nicholas began by explaining that there are three types of Cardinal - Cardinal Bishops, for example Cardinal Arinze; Cardinal Priests, who lead the churches in their country, for example our own Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor; and Cardinal Deacons, who are theologians working for the Vatican, for example Cardinal Avery Dulles. (All three names mentioned above came and preached/spoke in Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy during my time there. CV) Fr Nicholas began by talking about the Mediaeval English cardinals. The first one, although largely forgotten, was Robert Pullen. The second was Nicholas Breakspear, who is better known as Pope Adrian IV, the only English Pope (so far). Cardinal Wolsey is more widely known than any of these, although the popular view, as exemplified by his portrayal in "A Man for all Seasons", was described by Fr Nicholas as "perhaps a little unfair". Fr Nicholas described the Cardinal Duke of York, Henry Stuart as his "favourite cardinal". Cardinal Stuart lived like a king, and is even claimed by some to have been King Henry IX of England, Scotland and Wales.The talk then moved on to the Reformation cardinals, of whom the most well-known is probably the only English Cardinal to be martyred - St John Fisher. He (unlike Wolsey) refused to sanction King Henry VIII's divorce. Other cardinals mentioned in this section included Reginald Pole - the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, and a relative of Henry VIII; and William Allen, who founded an English college in Douai to train seminarians. His legacy lives on today in the seminaries of Allen Hall in London and Ushaw in Durham.Since the Catholic hierarchy was restored and new dioceses established, the Archbishop of Westminster has been the head of the Catholic church in England, and every Archbishop of Westminster has been made a cardinal. The first of these was Cardinal Wiseman, and the latest is Cardinal Murphy O'Connor. In modern times there have been other English cardinals, for example Cardinal Newman. Most of the recent cardinals are buried in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral, with their red hats hanging above them. Apparantly tradition has it that when the hat falls, it signifies the cardinal's soul being released from purgatory. All the hats are so far still hanging.

Our Lady of Fatima

Over the last two weeks the Heralds of the Gospel have visited the parish to talk to some of our groups of young people. They brought with them a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which had been crowned by the Pope. Br Aldo Leone explained what happened at Fatima, and encouraged the youngsters to pray to Mary to intercede for them. The rosary was prayed. The sessions ended with games for the younger groups, and a meal for the older ones.