Cardinal Cormac’s Pause for Thought

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To mark his eightieth birthday, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has been in the BBC Radio 2 studios giving us his Pause for Thought. Here’s the full text of His Eminence’s reflection:

The Bible tells us that ‘the span of a man’s years is seventy or eighty if he is strong’.

I must be quite strong because today is my eightieth birthday. I am not much given to celebrating birthdays and can hardly remember any of my previous ones. However, there was one birthday party I call to mind when I was five years old. My family was in Ireland on holiday and my father and mother invited all my uncles and aunts and their children to a picnic. I remember it was a lovely day and I was sitting down with my school cap on.

One of my uncles called me over and said: “Take off your cap and hold it out, and go around everybody and say ‘sixpence for the birthday boy!’” So I did, and as far as I remember, they all paid up! It was probably good training for my future life.

Shakespeare says ‘old men forget’ but it is not altogether true. As I look back on my long life I remember so many things – the good and the bad, joys and sorrows, achievements and disappointments.

I have been a priest and a bishop for fifty-five years, and I am very grateful to God for all the blessings he has bestowed on me during my life. But I am especially grateful for being involved in the lives of so many men and women, many of them friends whom I love. Often people ask me why I became a priest and I usually reply that I thought and still do that in some mysterious way, it was the will of God for my life and I do not regret it.

You know, I believe it is God who has brought me through these eighty years. He is a God of love and compassion. And I trust him.

Our web section marking the eightieth birthday of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
BBC Radio 2 section on the Corporation’s site.
The Diocese of Westminster’s site.
We have a selection of images of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on our Flickr photostream.