Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

October 15, 2012

Pope Benedict personally intervened to prevent a British cardinal from occupying political office when he retired from active ministry.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster, said the British government was considering appointing him as a member of the House of Lords after he reached 75, the retirement age for bishops and cardinals.

However, Pope Benedict opposed the idea because he did not wish to set a precedent that might have been copied by bishops in South America and Africa who wished to join the governments of their countries, the cardinal said in an interview published Sept. 30 by the London-based Sunday Telegraph.

Church law prohibits clerics from holding political office.

“The idea was quite attractive,” said Murphy-O’Connor, 80.

“I consulted the pope and his chief adviser and they were against it,” he said.

“It’s to do with having the freedom to be outside the political system.”