Anna Arco's Diary

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Is Cormac Murphy-O’Connor the most powerful priest in England and Wales?

If the long-drawn deliberations over Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s appointment to Westminster are anything to go by, then Rome struggles for reliable information about the on-the-ground situation in Albion. With Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor at the table and the Nuncio Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz by his side, the bishops will have someone present as they deliberate to advise them. As a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the cardinal will also have a veto on names put forward on any terna. Even if he reaches Roman retirement age in three years time, he will be able to influence a great number of decisions which will directly affect the appointments made to England and Wales.

Next year Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham diocese faces retirement while in 2011, Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, Hallam’s Bishop John Rawsthorne, Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth and Shrewsbury’s Bishop Brian Noble are all due to step down. In 2012 and 2013 Plymouth’s bishop Christopher Budd and Salford’s Terrence Brain respectively retire.

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