Catholics flock to Cathedral to mourn 'a noble soul'
By Luke Coppen, Joe Jenkins, Simon Caldwell and Josephine Siedlecka
THOUSANDS of mourners will pay their last respects to Cardinal Basil Hume when he is laid to rest in Westminster Cathedral today.
Two and a half thousand people will pack the Cathedi al for the funeral Mass of the man hailed as "one of the great religious leaders of our age". Hundreds more will listen to the two-hour service in the Cathedral piazza, while thousands will follow the service live on television and radio. Masses will be offered around the country for the repose of the Cardinal's soul.
Cardinal Edward Cassidy, representing the Pope, will be the chief celebrant at the funeral Mass.
He will be joined by up to 500 priests and bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahearn and the Prince of Wales were expected to attend.
Bishop John Crowley of Middlesbrough, private secretary to Cardinal Hume between 1976 and 1982 and a close friend, is expected to preach the homily, in accordance with the wishes of the Cardinal.
Readings will be taken from the Book of Wisdom (13:1-9) and the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (1:26-31), and the Gospel is to be Luke 18:914. The processional hymn will be Praise to the Holiest, communion hymn Godhead Here in Hiding, and the recessional hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.
Cardinal Hume died last Thursday at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, in north London, two months after he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Pope John Paul II commended Cardinal Hume's "noble soul" to God and praised his "devoted service" to the Church.
"I am confident that the example of the Cardinal's devoted service as Benedictine monk and Abbot at Ampleforth and as Archbishop of Westminster, his untiring work as president of the bishops' conference, as well as his witness of dignity and hope in the face of the mystery of suffering and death will inspire all who knew him to ever greater fidelity to the Gospel of salvation," the Holy Father wrote.
In his tribute to the Cardinal, published in this week's Catholic Herald, Cardinal Thomas Winning writes: "It was the words of Leonardo da Vinci which put into context, for me, the life and death of my friend, George Basil Cardinal Hume: 'As a wellspent day brings happy sleep, so life well-used brings happy death'."
The auxiliary bishops of his archdiocese said the Cardinal had been a "rock of strength" in his 23 years as Archbishop of Westminster. "We shall miss his calm and reassuring presence," they said. "We shall miss his inspiring leadership."
The monks of Ampleforth Abbey paid tribute to the Cardinal, who led them from 1963 and 1976. Abbot Timothy Wright said: "He was an inspiring Abbot to the community, a much-loved bishop in his diocese and a spiritual father for millions of others in our country and beyond."
The Duchess of Kent, whom the Cardinal received into the Church in 1994, said it was "a privilege to know Cardinal Hume as a friend whose life bore witness to his extraordinary qualities".
Prime Minister Tony Blair described the Cardinal as "goodness personified" and William Hague said the Cardinal was a "great Christian leader" who was respected and loved by people all over the country.
Tributes flowed in from the many charities supported by the Cardinal. The director of the Cardinal Hume Centre, Michael Ryan, said: "The fact that we are here is a living tribute to the Cardinal."
Mark McGreevy, chief executive of the De Paul Trust, said: "It is difficult to imagine a more supportive or concerned patron." Cafod director Julian Filochowski said the aid agency felt "a huge sense of loss" and had gained much from "his faith, his holiness and his humanity".
Priests and bishops around the world sent their condoloco. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan, wrote of Cardinal Hume's "luminous witness to the Gospel and faithful dedication to the Church".
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris described him as a "man of the heart", who was able to serve others because he had given himself wholly to God.
Cardinal Hume first announced his terminal illness in April in a letter to the priests of Westminster Archdiiocese.
He told them that he had received "two wonderful graces". "First, I have been given time to prepare for a new future. Secondly, I find myself— uncharacteristically — calm and at peace."
John Paul II wrote to the Cardinal shortly after the announcement.
He mid: "You have lived the greater part of your life according to the great Benedictine ideal of 'peace'. May this be the divine gift which fills your heart as you look back over your dedicated priestly service of God's people as Archbishop of Westminster, and as you now prepare to seal that service in total self-giving, in union with the Crucified Lord."
Cardinal Hume replied with characteristic modesty: "I do not believe that my suffering and pain have been anything like yours."
Initially the Cardinal continued with his public engagements, as he promised he would. He presided over the 60th anniversary Mass at St Mary Magdalene's Church in Willesden Green, north London, and was in good spirits at the party afterwards. But gradually more and more appointments from his busy schedule were cancelled at the last moment as he was too ill to attend. His last official engagement was on May 25, when he received the Order of Merit at Buckingham Palace.
Visibly frail, but cheerful, he left his hospital bed to receive the honour from the Queen, who was said last week to be "deeply saddened" by his death.
On June 6 there were quiet tears at the 100th anniversary Mass in the chapel at St John and St Elizabeth's Hospital when Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville who had stepped in at the last moment in place of the Cardinal told a hushed gathering that he was now gravely ill. Distressed, several close friends and relations of the Cardinal slipped away after the Mass without attending the reception.
The last official press notice from the Cardinal's office was released on Monday June 14. In it he apologised for missing the "human chain" along the Thames calling for the cancellation of Third World Debt. He said: "I am sorry I am unable to be with you, but I will be there in spirit."
On Thursday night he was joined at his hospital bedside by his private secretary, Fr James Curry, Fr Liam Kelly, a nurse and his nephew William Charles. Friends said that Cardinal Hume's continued on page 2