When in 1992 the Church of England decided to ordain women priests, thousands of laity, some bishops and several hundred priests left the Church of England and sought full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. At the time a storm of controversy erupted when Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, said that this could be "the opportunity for the re-conversion of England for which we had been praying for years". He was later to withdraw his comment by saying that "re-conversion" was a word "which had been better not used". The Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe was one of those who left the Church of England over this issue and she was received into full communion with Rome in 1993. This evening Miss Widdecombe will give the fourth Cardinal Hume Memorial Lecture in St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne at 6pm. There are no tickets for this lecture and all are welcome. The annual lecture honour of the life and ministry of one of the great sons of Tyneside. In her lecture Miss Widdecombe asks: "So what of that vision, the re-conversion of England? Is it still valid? Is it still possible? Could it be that future generations will look back and say "this is when it started?" Basil Hume was born in Newcastle in 1920 and became Archbishop of Westminster in 1976. Shortly before his death five years ago, HM the Queen awarded him the rare honour of the Order of Merit. When he died in June 1999 people throughout Britain, of all faiths and none, recognised that a great spiritual leader had been lost. His personal holiness and wisdom gained a wide and deep influence, not only within the Catholic Church but throughout the country. Following his death The Times obituary wrote that "few churchmen this century, inside or outside the Catholic Church, have died more deeply loved." Fr Michael Campion is Dean of St Mary's Cathedral
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