Page 4, 25th April 1947

25th April 1947
Page 4
Page 4, 25th April 1947 — The 100th Profile I HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL GRIFFIN

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People: Wiseman, See, Manning
Locations: Birmingham


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[Though we feel that in the ordinary way the nature of this feature makes it hardly suitable for recording the lives and describing the personalities of members of the ILer. archy, we have decided to mark the 100th Profile by paying the following tribute to His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.] CARDINAL Griffin is the 6th Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. In three years' time he will, please God, be celebrating the centenary of the Restoration of the Hierarchy of England and Wales—a hundred years during which the chief See of the country has been ruled by prelates of the highest distinction. All their names are household words to us, and their records have established them in the public history of the country. First, Cardinal Wiseman, a Bishop whose stature is realised to be all the greater the more his life and times are studied, for it was due to him that the different elements which went to make up the Church in this country were welded together; second, Cardinal Manning, a Prelate of the very first rank who may have made mistakes (like most born leaders) but who stands out for posterity by his personality, his great work for the clergy and his deep and practical love fot the workers; third, Cardinal Vaughan, who built Westminster Cathedral, stood out as, in every best sense of the word, a great gentleman, and came to be known after his death as a man of deep holiness; fourth, Cardinal Bourne, who gently but firmly completed and established the work of his predecessors and carried the Church ahead; lastly. Cardinal Hireiey, a personality recalling that of Cardinal Manning himself in his power to strike the imagination of his fellowcountrymen as a true patriot, a lover of the people and a great Christian leader. It is indeed to a great line of Churchmen that our present Cardinal succeeds—and succeeds in times that may demand even greater qualities of leadership and wisdom than were required in a more stable past.

To lead us in these clays of both danger and promise the Holy Father has chosen a Churchman sprung from that sturdy middle class which in the last two centuries has made the modern greatness of the country and which to-day is still its backbone. Such a man, after sharing with his fellow Englishmen some of the rough and tumble of war service in the first war, received the best ecclesiastical training possible at Oscott, the English College and the Bede. and, in obtaining the two Doctorates, Divinity and Canon Law, he proved the quality of his intellectual powers. Before he was thirty, he was appointed Secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham, and almost at once also appointed Chancellor to the Archdiocese—shall we say, its maid of all routine work of importance ?

Such steps as these might seem to indicate a dryness of outlook rather than freshness and colour. But they were in fact the foundation of that efficiency and capability withoui which personality and colour can be deceptive. That these were also present was made clear when Mgr. Griffin was made Administrator of Father Hudson's Homes for orphan boys, for there was a job which only the natural friend of all children could make a success. Any picture of the Cardinal surrounded by children is enough to reveal all that need be known about that I With children he wears the same sunny smile as he bestowed as an Air-raid Warden (and also Bishop) on the efforts the enemy made to blow us out of the war. (By the way, one has seen the same smile on the faces of children themselves in tough war moments, at least when parents or school teachers knew how to handle them.)

The personality called. then, to Westminster in the flower of his age was strong, highly-trained, experienced, one inevitably rapidly promoted, but carrying with these necessary qualities a natural gaiety, the sort of accessibility that children understand and love, and, consequently, a great buoyancy and optimism. The present writer only saw him once in early days : characteristically he was, a Bishop, backing his own car out of an awkward spot with splendid elan. One can tell a great deal by the way people handle cars !

Oh the great work he has started, as Britain's first Catholic and a Prince of the Holy Roman Church, it is not for us to speak. One can only record what one knows personally : his tremendous drive, the clarity of his mind, the humility with which he treats the least important person and bestows his whole attention on the least important concern, his thoroughness, his confidence in the goodwill and initiative of others, the utter simplicity which reveals the father and the friend through the robes of his high office, his spontaneous and most generous charity, a sense of humour which prevents him from taking any personal offence at critical comments by non-Catholics on public pronouncements that have to be made, above all perhaps his love of youth and faith in it.

One could go on, but it surely suffices to say that when qualities like these stand behind a deep resolution to do his utmost, under God, to bring his countrymen in their masses back to Our Lord—the true centre of his own life—then we may well believe that this generation of British Catholics will surely realise promise. if it also has to face danger.

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