Contrary to a report in a London
sunday newspaper, the appointment of Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to succeed Cardinal Basil Hume as spiritual leader of Catholics in England and Wales, is still a rumour.
   The name of Murphy-O'Connor, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, is one of two sent to the Vatican by the premier Catholic earl, the Duke of Norfolk. The Duke said on Wednesday he had not been informed of any announcement, but said he would "rejoice" if Bishop Murphy-O'Connor were named. "The rumour is a happy and welcome one. I would love to have Bishop Murphy-O'Connor at Westminster," he added.
   The Catholic Media Office predicted at the time of Cardinal Hume's death in June that finding a successor would take nine months. If correct, this would mean an announcement next month. But the Pope has three vacancies to fill in France and also needs to appoint a new Archbishop of Birmingham.
   The Nuncio sent a shortlist to the Pope before Christmas and other names on the list include Cardinal Hume's first choice as his successor, the Rt Rev Vincent Nicholls, who is currently caretaker of Westminster archdiocese. Other favourites to lead the four million Catholics in England and Wales are Fr Radcliffe and Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, who speaks fluent Arabic and works at the Vatican dealing with inter-faith relations. A name will be sent by coded message to the Nuncio's residence in Wimbledon, south-west London, before the candidate is approached and asked if he is willing to accept. A source in the Rome diplomatic corps said an announcement was expected soon.
Telegraph 10/2/00

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