Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor memoirs ‘censored’ by church

The Guardian

Ed Salter and Haroon Siddique
Sunday 31 May 2015

The Catholic church has been accused of pressuring one of its senior figures to censor extracts of his memoirs relating to a sexual abuse scandal.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the church in England and Wales, is said to have been forced to cut chunks from his new book relating to the crisis in his ministry in which he failed to report a paedophile priest to the police and let him continue working. The clergyman, Michael Hill, was later jailed twice for sexually assaulting young victims.

Among the sections understood to have been cut is one in which Murphy-O’Connor defends the right to protect priests when they have erred. Murphy-O’Connor, while Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, moved Hill to the chaplaincy at Gatwick airport despite being warned he was a danger to young people. The cardinal faced calls to resign over the scandal.

In the published version of An English Spring, the extract about the duty towards fellow clergy is said to have been replaced with a lament about bishops’ failure to prioritise abuse victims over their priests.

Associates of the cardinal, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian that he had been obliged to censor his work. One said: “A number of us, his friends, were asked to read the typescript in draft. I understand that pressure was put on the cardinal by church authorities to excise sections of the chapter on Michael Hill along with other material in the book.”

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