Cardinal Murphy O'Connor pays Tribute in Rome to John Paul II
posted on 13 April 2005
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has given thanks for the life of Pope John Paul II, and asked people to pray for the cardinals who will elect his successor.
Speaking at his titular church in Rome on Wednesday evening, he said John Paul II had sung “three songs” in his papacy – “a song of joy, a song of suffering and a song of faith”.
Recalling the Pope’s love of young people and the joy of World Youth Days, he said John Paul II’s ministry had in many ways been strongest when he was weak.
Speaking in Italian, he said: “It seems to me that his message was stronger, more convincing, in his suffering, even more so than in his years of health and strength. In suffering his message was that all of us, in sickness or in health, are infinitely special in the eyes of God.”
The Cardinal quoted St Paul’s Letter to Timothy, which he said had come to his mind when he first heard the news of the Pope’s death. “I have fought the good fight to the end, I have run the race to the finish, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
The Cardinal also reflected on the Gospel of John 12: 24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” He said the death of Pope John Paul II had already produced “abundant fruit” in prayer and witness.
All cardinals are given a “titular church” in Rome when they receive their red hat. This makes them technically a parish priest of the city, which entitles them to elect the Bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s church is Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which is one of the most beautiful in Rome. The church contains the tomb of St Catherine of Siena, who was declared by Pope John Paul to be co-patron of Europe. The parish is run by Dominicans.
The Cardinal said:
“I am very privileged to be given this titular church and here today, at this time, it has special significance because it is, as it were, as parish priest of this church that enables me to be one of the electors in the coming conclave.”
Thanking the Cardinal for his presence, Fr Giovanni Monti OP told him that by tradition the new pope goes first to Assisi, then to a church in Rome. To laughter, he told the Cardinal: “We would like to invite you, then, to come first here to your church.”
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said he would pass on the message to the new Pope.
He also asked people to pray for the cardinals, “we who have the very grave responsibility during the following days for the election of a new pope.”