Monday, March 30, 2009

Bishop of Leeds favourite to become next Archbishop of Westminster

The Bishop of Leeds, who sparked protests for closing churches in his diocese, has emerged as the front-runner to become the next head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The Rt Rev Arthur Roche, a traditional bishop who has strong links with Rome, is understood to be the most likely candidate to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster.

In a meeting with MPs last week, the cardinal signalled that an announcement on who will replace him was imminent and could come within the next fortnight.

He is a strong supporter of Bishop Roche, with whom he worked closely when the 59-year-old Yorkshireman served as an auxiliary bishop to the cardinal.

As well as having previous experience of working in the Archdiocese of Westminster, Bishop Roche has good links with Rome.

Bishop Roche spent time at the English College in Rome, studying theology at the Gregorian University before becoming the college's spiritual director.

In January it was reported that he was being lined up for a move to the Vatican to take up a post in the congregation for worship.

With the failure of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome to decide on one of the three names from the terna – or shortlist, it now appears increasing likely that the bishop is being considered as a safe candidate to succeed Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

As one of the most experienced bishops in the Church, he is understood to have impressed Pope Benedict XVI with his work on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

However, he has caused controversy in his diocese with his decision to close several churches, some of which had congregations of 200 worshippers.

While the Pope seems set to prefer Bishop Roche, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham is still regarded by many as the outstanding candidate and Bishop Bernard Longley is understood to have been the subject of much lobbying in Rome.

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(Source: TCUK)

(Posting 2,200 of 2009)