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Sunday, December 11, 2016
Birmingham bids farewell to Archbishop Couve de Murville
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 The Funeral Mass for Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville was held in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, in central Birmingham, on the morning of Wednesday 21 November. The Most Reverend Maurice Noel Leon Couve de Murville, Archbishop Emeritus of Birmingham, died on Saturday 3 November, aged 78. He was the seventh Archbishop of Birmingham, having served from March 1982 until June 1999, when he resigned on the grounds of ill-health. There was an almost complete turnout of his brother bishops, active and retired, giving witness to the tremendous affection in which he was held. Priest and deacons from the Archdiocese and wider afield filled both side aisles of the Pugin Cathedral which Archbishop Maurice had done so much to brighten and enhance. Archbishop Vincent Nichols welcomed the close family and friends of the late Archbishop Maurice, some of whom had travelled from France and Mauritius. He also greeted representatives from the many theatres in which Archbishop Maurice had worked, together with civic and church leaders. These included the former Bishop of Birmingham, Mark Santer, who worked with the then Bishop Murphy-O'Connor of Arundel & Brighton as Co-Chairman of ARCIC. Cormac, now Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, with the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muoz, were on the sanctuary and the Cardinal led the Final Commendation. In his homily Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brighton, a former Administrator of St Chad's Cathedral, said: "I hope that the memories that we carry away from this farewell will be of affection, admiration and respect for all that Maurice achieved." He reminded the congregation that the heart of the celebration was not the memory of the former Archbishop but the memory entrusted to him to be kept alive. "Maurice's own proclamation of this truth was 'filled with awe and great joy'." Bishop Conry continued: "The late Archbishop knew that it was his task to preach the faith, and he did it with enthusiasm and energy. This cathedral, restored after its modernisation, in the 1960s, is testimony to that energy. "Today, when we are at risk of losing our confidence in the face, not just of indifference and apathy, but now a genuine suspicion of and hostility towards religion, we are called on not only to hold our nerve, but to go out to those who have strayed, to those in tears and despair and bring them back." Bishop Conry concluded: "Archbishop Maurice undoubtedly longed for the appearing of his Lord. Let us keep this memory of him alive." Popular hymns, sung with gusto by the whole congregation, included Cardinal Newman's "Praise to the Holiest in the Height and, at Communion, "Soul of My Saviour". When the coffin was lifted from the catafalque and borne outside St Chad's Cathedral, all the bishops, priests and deacons formed an honour guard for Archbishop Maurice's mortal remains as they were placed in the hearse. Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville was then buried in the cemetery at St Mary's College, Oscott, the Diocesan Seminary, dear to his heart, situated on the outskirts of Birmingham.
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