Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and spiritual leader of the five million Roman Catholics of England and Wales, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his Ordination as Priest tomorrow. To mark the Golden Jubilee, Pope Benedict XVI has sent a special Apostolic Blessing and message of congratulation to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O,Connor in which he says: "We give thanks to God, the giver of all blessings, for the great achievements of your long apostolate among your people and where you will surely be honoured and our joy shared by everyone." A special Jubilee Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O,Connor at Westminster Cathedral, London, at 5.30pm on Sunday, 29 October. In his homily he will say that the essence of Priesthood is to be of service to others. "On the day of my ordination, above all, I recognised that my Priesthood was not for myself but for others and that it was to be a life of service to the People of God. For that I dedicated my life." He will also point out that people today are as ready to hear the call of God as they were 50 years ago: "Vocations have not dried up. The faith has not dried up. The hope that is in Christ has not dried up. It is there, still in our midst." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was born in 1932 in Reading, Berkshire. After studying for the priesthood at the English College in Rome he was ordained a priest of the diocese of Portsmouth in 1956. In 1971 he was appointed Rector of the English College in Rome, and Bishop of Arundel and Brighton in 1977. From 1982 to 2000 he served as Co-Chairman of the Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). In February 2000 he was appointed Archbishop of Westminster in succession to Cardinal Hume. He was named to the College of Cardinals on 22 February 2001 and with them elected Pope Benedict XVI on 19 April 2005. Pope Benedict's letter To Our Venerable Brother, Cormac His Eminence Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster Soon the whole Catholic community in Britain will experience a special joy when it will be able and indeed will want to honour you, our venerable brother, as a renowned spiritual leader. This is because you have been for a long time a distinguished teacher in the ways of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and now celebrate a truly memorable event in your life and ministry, namely, the Fiftieth Anniversary of your Ordination as a Priest on 28th October 2006. From afar, we have always and with admiration followed the course of your life and so would wish also to share in the congratulations and the festivities of this occasion. We are therefore writing this letter in a spirit of sincere affection and brotherly love so that we can also be near to you at this time and with the whole flock of the Diocese of Westminster which is so dear to you. Together we give thanks to God, the giver of all blessings, for the great achievements of your long apostolate among your people and where you will surely be honoured and our joy shared by everyone. We remember in particular three blessings of your priestly life. First of all, we remember that you served happily as a priest of the Diocese of Portsmouth for over twenty years until Mother Church thought you worthy to be appointed as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. Then our predecessor of recent memory, John Paul II, appointed you Metropolitan Archbishop of Westminster where you continually build up and renew the Church of God with worthy and fruitful initiatives and with great authority. Likewise, dear brother, here at Rome, we remember your particular service as Rector of the English College and the continual help you give to us in the tasks given to you as Cardinal and Member of several Congregations and Councils of our Apostolic See. Thus it is with a spirit of gratitude to God and in recognition of the gifts of your priesthood that we wish to be truly united with your clergy and faithful people as you celebrate the anniversary of your ordination as a priest. For this reason, we warmly congratulate you and extend our best wishes for the future. We pray that our Merciful Redeemer Himself may even now reward and console you as you remember your past life which is indeed a pledge of the eternal rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven. With affection, we extend to you, dear brother, our Apostolic Blessing. From Castel Gandolfo, 30th September 2006 the second of Our Pontificate. Benedict Pp. XVI Source: Archbishop's House
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