Cardinal Basil Hume

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About Cardinal Hume

George Haliburton Hume OSB, OM, MA, STL (March 2, 1923-June 17, 1999) was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to Sir William Errington Hume and Marie Elizabeth Tisseyre. 

His father was a Protestant heart doctor from Scotland, and his mother the French Catholic daughter of an army officer. He had three sisters and one brother.

He joined the Benedictine monastery at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire at the age of 18. He took the name Basil when he made his final vows as a monk in 1945. He was ordained priest on July 23, 1950. On February 9, 1976, Pope Paul VI appointed him as Archbishop of Westminster, the highest ranking Catholic priest in England and Wales, and later that year, Cardinal. He was the first monk to be made Archbishop since 1850 when the Roman Catholic hierarchy was restored in England and Wales.

Cardinal Hume’s time in office saw Catholicism become more accepted in Britain than it had been for 400 years. 1995 saw the first visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Westminster Cathedral. He also read from the Bible at the installation ceremony of Archbishop Robert Runcie as of Canterbury in 1980.

In 1998, Cardinal Hume asked John Paul II for permission to retire, so that he could go back to his monastery at Ampleforth and spend some time fly fishing and watching Newcastle United Football Club. The request was refused. He was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer in April 1999.

On June 2 of that same year, Queen Elizabeth awarded him the Order of Merit. He died just over two weeks later on June 17th in London, aged 76. His funeral was live on national television and he was buried in Westminster Cathedral. Pope John Paul II said he was a “shepherd of great spiritual and moral character”.

On homelessness

“My interest in homelessness stems from the Christian obligation to help those in need.Our Lord says in St. Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me’. So I believe that we have a duty to look frankly at the social conditions around us, and as Christians of all denominations to work together and with others to do what we can to address the specific needs which we find.”

Opening of the Cardinal Hume Centre’s Hostel for Young People, 1989

“It is essential to recognise that homelessness is a complex problem, with immediate and also long term causes. I am no expert in these matters, but two of the most important reasons for homelessness are, I suspect, the increase in family break-up, and the growing shortage of affordable accommodation particularly for the lower paid. In addition, of course, there are particular categories of people, especially in inner cities, who are particularly vulnerable: the mentally ill, alcoholics and drug users, young single homeless.”

Annual General Meeting of Acton Homeless Concern July 5 1990

“In this area of London we are fortunate indeed to have so many people committed to this work. The Cardinal Hume Centre together with the Passage and the DePaul Trust all do a marvellous job, in complementary ways, to assist homeless people. The work of the Cardinal Hume Centre is the product of a lot of effort and many acts of generosity by individuals and groups of people.”

Cardinal Hume Centre Annual Reception, 1994

Obituaries

Follow the links below to the obituaries of Cardinal Hume from the National Papers:

Cardinal Basil Hume, OM, who has died aged 76, was an outstandingly popular Archbishop of Westminster whose sincerity and expertly judged public pronouncements strengthened both the reputation and the self-confidence of Roman Catholics in England and Wales.
The Telegraph

The death at the age of 76 of George Basil Hume, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, has deprived the Catholic Church and the world of a truly outstanding religious leader. The characteristic serenity and cheerfulness with which he endured his last days came not many weeks after his announcing that he had been diagnosed as suffering from cancer, which he hoped to survive until the millennium. It is not in its early stages, he said in his last letter to the clergy of Westminster. Above all, no fuss.
The Tablet 

It was on the plane back from Rome in 1980 that George Basil Hume realised that everything had to change. He was returning from a meeting of the synod which had brought Roman Catholic bishops from all over the world to discuss “Marriage and the Family” – a subject which English Catholics, clergy and laity, had considered at length earlier that year at their National Pastoral Congress.
The Independent