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Cardinal: disestablishment would benefit the Church of England

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.