The late Cardinal Basil Hume halted a Vatican investigation of the outspoken feminist theologian, Sister Lavinia Byrne, saying it would be harmful to the Church to silence her.
   Despite the plea, Sr Byrne resigned from her order last month after 35 years claiming that she had been "bullied" by the Vatican over her views on contraception and the ordination of women.
   In September 1998, nine months before he died, the Cardinal wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome asking that they take "no further action" against the nun, whom he described as "much-respected".
   The previously unseen letter, which appears this week in The Tablet, reveals that the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales defended the nun's right to publish her views. Although he disagreed with what she argued in Women at the Altar, the Cardinal tried to persuade the Vatican to drop its investigation for the sake of the Church.
Telegraph 7/2/00

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