Southwark welcomes new Archbishop

 The Most Rev Kevin McDonald was installed today as the Archbishop of Southwark, at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, south London. Archbishop McDonald received his crozier from his predecessor, Archbishop Michael Bowen, who has been Bishop of the Archdiocese since 1977. In an apostolic letter which was read at the Installation Mass, Pope John Paul II spoke of Archbishop Kevin's "great intellectual gifts" and "spiritual experience". The Pope added that the new Archbishop had "well-proven zeal for the salvation of souls". The Pope's representative, His Excellency Archbishop Pablo Puente, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, said: "Archbishop Michael Bowen has done great work over many years in this diocese and is well respected. We offer our prayers and best wishes to Archbishop McDonald for the future." Archbishop Puente added: "His Holiness knows about this great celebration and feels united in joy with you at this important moment in the life of your diocese. He blesses you, your families, your work, your parishes, your organisations, your hopes and your Christian ideals." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, said: "Archbishop Michael Bowen has been a member of the Bishops' Conference for 33 years. He is a wise counsellor and, for this diocese, a faithful and loving pastor. As someone who has been a friend for 50 years, since we first met in Rome, I want to say thank you as he enters his retiring years. "A new chapter has begun in this great diocese. I am heartened by what Archbishop Kevin has said [in his installation homily]. These are times of hope when the Holy Spirit is at work. All our churches face great challenges but never have we known of such a time when so many people are looking for meaning and hope. There is no need to feel discouraged about facing the future." Cardinal Cormac added: "There is no need to commend Archbishop Kevin to you. He has many gifts to bring to the Archdiocese. He is his own man. It is clear today that he will have the support not only of the priests and people of the diocese but also of the other churches and his fellow bishops." Archbishop Kevin McDonald, in his installation homily, called on Catholics to be faithful to the Church and its teachings and to evangelise unambiguously. He said: "Today I have publicly responded to my vocation to serve in this very large local church: to be a father and brother to the priests and deacons, to work with our Religious, so important a part of our life, and to be pastor to all those entrusted to my care in our parishes, schools and other institutions..." Archbishop McDonald said that the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ,"stands for us a symbol of hope in the face of war and terrorism, of the problems of poverty and deprivation and of discrimination and the breakdown of families and communities." "All of these," he said, "are very real to us all. We encounter and know them, but there can be justice, peace, integrity, chastity and fidelity.This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our preaching and teaching, talking and speaking, must be of God's coming... This is our Good News." St George's Cathedral was packed for the installation, with nearly 2,000 people in the congregation and more than 250 priests. Most of the 35 Catholic Bishops of England and Wales also attended, as did all the Anglican bishops whose dioceses are within the boundaries of the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, including the Most Rev Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Williams said after the installation: "I am delighted to have Archbishop Kevin here and I look forward to working closely with him." Archbishop Kevin McDonald, speaking after his installation, said: "I was very glad of the presence of the ecumenical guests and was particularly honoured that the Archbishop of Canterbury was there. "It was a very moving occasion and I felt it was not only my installation but a great farewell to Archbishop Bowen." The installation coincided with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. See ICN for earlier stories and Archbishop McDonald's first homily as Archbishop.

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