Hume denies war in Church

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The Independent Online
Cardinal Basil Hume, the leader of Britain's Roman Catholics, yesterday denied speculation of civil war in the Church.

As the row between the conservative right and the mainstream Church showed no signs of abating in print, the Cardinal said: "I don't think there is [civil war], and if there is one then I'd like to think of myself as a general of both sides."

But he admitted he knew some people would be pleased when he retired. Hinting it might be better for him to do so earlier than later, he said: "I suppose that when I say I wouldn't mind moving on there'll be a lot of people very glad about that."

The rift between opposing branches of the church spilled into the public arena last week when the traditionalist Alice Thomas Ellis was sacked for attacking the late liberal Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock, in her column in the Catholic Herald newspaper.

She said his brand of ecumenicism and mix of politics and religion had caused a slump in church attendance in Liverpool which was very damaging.

In the war of words which followed her article and subsequent removal, Miss Thomas Ellis's supporters expressedfears as to the future of the Church under Cardinal Hume and leaders like Derek Worlock and claimed hundreds of people were leaving.

But speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend yesterday, the Cardinal said: "I think that the Catholic Church is in a very satisfactory state.

"Right through history, there have always been divisions, and, of course, nowadays, through the media these things become much more public."

Referring to Miss Thomas Ellis's article, the Cardinal said he thought it was always wrong to attack a person who had recently died. Archbishop Worlock had aroused the opposition of some people, but the Cardinal said: "We all do. I do too, I suppose, but one has always got to look in everybody's life at the good they've done and Archbishop Worlock did a great deal of good and he was a great archbishop."