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Franciscan University Presents Honorary Degree to Former Archbishop of Westminster

Presentation took place at Rome residence of British Ambassador to the Holy See

Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009

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STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—At a May 13 event in Rome, Franciscan University of Steubenville presented an honorary doctorate in Christian letters to Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, England, for his work promoting Christian unity and Christian culture in an increasingly secular world.

“Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has worked with patient resolve and charity to heal longstanding divisions in the Church in Britain and around the world,” said Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University. “He has also consistently reminded Christians not only in Britain, but throughout Europe, of the pivotal importance of faith as the basis of all culture and urged them to bring their faith into public debates as the only true means of achieving the common good. Franciscan University is proud to honor Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor for his exemplary service to the Church and society.”

A priest for over 50 years, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was ordained bishop of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in 1977. He served as chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Europe (1978-1983), chairman of the Committee for Christian Unity (1983-2000), chairman of the Department for Mission and Unity (1994-2000), and co-chairman of the Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (1982-2000) among other leadership roles. He became archbishop of Westminster on March 22, 2000, was elected president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales in November 2000, and created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in February 2001. He has served as a member of four Vatican offices including the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's resignation from the See of Westminster on April 3, 2009.

In recognition of his work for Christian unity, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor received a doctorate of divinity from the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey. He also holds the distinction of being the first member of the Catholic hierarchy since 1680 to be invited to deliver a sermon to an English monarch. Queen Elizabeth II issued the invitation in January 2002, and she was present along with members of her family and household when Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor preached during the Anglican morning service at her country residence in Norfolk.

Father Henry presented the Franciscan University honorary doctorate at a reception and dinner hosted by His Excellency Francis Campbell, British ambassador to the Holy See, at his residence in Rome.

William Joseph Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accepted the degree on behalf of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, who had been hospitalized the week prior to the event and was unable to attend. Cardinal Levada read comments from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, thanking Franciscan University for “this very kind and generous gesture” and expressing his hope that he can visit Steubenville personally in the near future “to experience my new alma mater.”

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor also noted, “The witness that Steubenville gives is so necessary in today’s world. You, like St. Francis, are committed to excellence, but excellence in the broadest sense—morally, spiritually, and intellectually. That formation is at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic college or university. Equipped with that sound formation, the graduates of Steubenville are found across the world in many walks of life where they are able to give witness.”

Dr. Robert Filby, executive vice president; Dr. Max Bonilla, vice president for Academic Affairs; John Magee, director of the Rome Program; trustee Theresa Collins; and former trustee Barbara Henkels also represented Franciscan University at the event.

Franciscan University of Steubenville, founded in 1946 by Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, integrates strong academic programs with a dynamic faith environment and serves over 2,400 students from all 50 states and 15 countries. It offers over 40 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, the most popular of which include theology, catechetics, nursing, education, and business administration.

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