Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster

name=Archdiocese of Westminster

province=Province of Westminster
bishop=Archbishop of Westminster
cathedral=Westminster Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster is an archdiocese, of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in England. The Archdiocese consists of all the London boroughs north of the River Thames and west of the River Lea, together with the towns southwest of Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames, and the County of Hertfordshire, which lies immediately to London's north.

The archdiocese is led by the Archbishop of Westminster, who serves as pastor of the motherchurch, Westminster Cathedral, and Metropolitan of the Province of Westminster. It has become customary for each successive Archbishop of Westminster to be raised to the rank of Cardinal by the Pope in consistory, but the offices are not formally linked. It is also customary for the Archbishop of Westminster to be elected President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, but this is the only formal role of leadership he has over the other English bishops.

The suffragan sees of Westminster are the dioceses of Brentwood, East Anglia, Nottingham, and Northampton.

History of the Archdiocese

The archdiocese grew out of a missionary territory called the Apostolic Vicariate of England which was canonically erected in 1622. With the re-emergence of the Roman Catholic Church in England, this original apostolic vicariate had been broken up and its name changed to become the Apostolic Vicariate of London District on January 30, 1688. By decree of Pope Pius IX, the apostolic vicariate was elevated to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese on September 29, 1850, as it remains today.

There have been several instances in the history of the Catholic Church in Westminster when its devoted followers were persecuted by English governments: most notably during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and during the shorter administration of the Republican Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658).

The Archdiocese today

The current archbishop is Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who was installed as tenth Archbishop of Westminster on March 22 2000. He was raised to the rank of Cardinal Priest of the Title of "Santa Maria Sopra Minerva" by Pope John Paul II on February 21 2001. On July 9 2007 Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor announced that, in accordance with the age limit of 75 years prescribed for bishops in the Code of Canon Law, he had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. He further announced that the Pope had asked him to continue in his pastoral ministry as archbishop beyond the age limit, until further provision is made.

The Cardinal is assisted by four auxiliary bishops, each with specific areas of responsibility within the administration of the archdiocese. One of the auxiliary bishops serves as Chancellor and Moderator of the Metropolitan Curia; one as vicar for the clergy; one for pastoral affairs; and one for education and formation.

The Metropolitan Curia and Chancery Offices are located at Vaughan House, outside Westminster Cathedral in central London. The Diocesan seminary, Allen Hall, is located in Chelsea, West London, and (with Ushaw College), is a direct descendant of the seminary of Douai College, France.

Liturgical and pastoral life in the Diocese

Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster is primarily based around the Revised Roman Rite promulgated by Pope Paul VI. However, as might be expected from a city as cosmopolitan as London, there is a great diversity in the liturgy as celebrated by Catholics in Westminster. The Latin Mass Society arranges liturgy according to the 1962 Missal with episcopal approval. The Ukrainian Rite Catholics have a strong presence in the diocese with their own Cathedral in Binney Street close to Bond Street. There is a Lebanese Maronite community based at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Cirencester Street in West London; a Melkite community in Pimlico, at St Barnabas' Church of England Church; an Ethiopian Catholic Church, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, in Queensway West London; an Eritrean Catholic Church, St Francis of Assisi, in Notting Hill; a Chaldean Catholic Church, St Anne's, in Laston Place and a Belarusian Catholic Church in Holden Avenue in North London. There are also a large number of Masses for the expatriate Polish community; as well as French, German, Spanish and Italian language Churches.

The Archdiocese is also responsible for many chaplaincies, including Heathrow Airport, hospitals and prisons. See St. George's Interdenominational Chapel, Heathrow Airport for more information about the Heathrow Airport Latin-rite Catholic chaplaincy.

There are a large number of religious communities in the diocese. Religious Orders of men include: the Assumptionists at Bethnal Green, Hitchin and Burnt Oak; the Augustinians at Hammersmith and Hoxton; the Augustinian Recollects at Kensal New Town, Kensington and Wembley; the Benedictines at Ealing Abbey and Cockfosters; the Carmelites at Finchley East; Discalced Carmelites at Kensington; the Christian Brothers at Twickenham; the missionary Columban Fathers at Hampstead; the Dominicans at Haverstock Hill; the Franciscans at Pimlico; the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Westminster; the Holy Ghost Fathers at New Barnett and Northwood; and the Passionists at Highgate. The Jesuits have a large presence in London with communities in Mayfair (at Farm Street), Kensington, Kilburn, Osterley,Southall, Stamford Hill, Swiss Cottage and Willesden Green. The Oratorians are based at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kensington, which is popularly known as the Brompton Oratory and is the largest Church in the diocese after Westminster Cathedral.

Religious communities of women include the Carmelites at Golders Green and Ware; the Poor Clares in Barnet;the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Victories in the Cathedral; the Ursulines of Jesus at Hoxton, Kingsland and Stamford Hill; the Dominicans at Bushey, Cricklewood, Ealing, Edgware, Harpenden, Harrow on the Hill, Haverstock Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Osterley, Stevenage and Pinner. The Institute of the B.V.M is located in Swiss Cottage, Acton, Osterley, Redbourn and St Albans. The Sisters of Mercy are located in the Cathedral, Acton East, Bethnal Green, Bow, Clapton Park, Commercial Road, Cricklewood, Feltham, Hampton Hill, Hillingdon, Kensal, Newtown, Marylebone Road, St Albans, St John's Wood, Twickenham and Underwood Road. the Servants of the Mother of God at Bayswater, Hampton Thames and Somers Town.

The diocese is involved in both the independent and state school sectors. Some 159 state and 10 independent primary schools are run by the diocese along with 42 state and 4 independent secondary schools. There are also a further 5 independent primary/secondary and special schools including the Choristers school attached to the Cathedral.

Music in the diocese is as diverse as the communities represented in it but the all male Cathedral Choir is reputedly the best in the country and sings at all chief Masses in the cathedral as well as the daily Divine Office. There are several choirs that specialise in Gregorian Chant and a Charismatic group centred on the diocesan seminary at Allen Hall.

List of the Archbishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, England

ee also

*St. George's Interdenominational Chapel, Heathrow Airport


* [ Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster]
* [ Giga-Catholic Information]
* [ Catholic Hierarchy Profile of the Archdiocese of Westminster]
* [ Parishes of the Archdiocese]
* [ Catholic organisations active in the diocese]

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