His Eminence 
George Basil Hume
Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Province Westminster
See Westminster
Enthroned 9 February 1976
Reign ended 17 June 1999
Predecessor John Carmel Heenan
Successor Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Ordination 23 July 1950 (Priest)
Consecration 26 March 1976 (Bishop)
Created Cardinal 24 May 1976
Rank Cardinal priest of S. Silvestro in Capite
Other Abbot of Saint Lawrence's Abbey, Ampleforth 1963-76
Personal details
Birth name George Haliburton Hume
Born 2 March 1923(1923-03-02)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died 17 June 1999 (aged 76)
London, England
Buried Westminster Cathedral
Nationality British - French
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents Sir William Errington Hume and Maria Elizabeth Hume (née Tisserye)

George Basil Hume, OSB, OM (1923–1999) was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Westminster from 1976 and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales from 1979 until his death. Hume was elevated to the cardinalate in 1976.[1]

During his lifetime Hume received wide respect from the general public which went beyond the Catholic community.[2] Following his death, a statue of him was erected in his home town of Newcastle upon Tyne outside St Mary's Cathedral (opposite the Central railway Station), unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II.[3]

Early life and ministry

George Haliburton Hume was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to Sir William Errington Hume and Marie Elizabeth (née Tisseyre) Hume (d.1978). His father was a Protestant cardiac physician from Scotland, and his mother the French Catholic daughter of an army officer. He had three sisters and one brother.

Hume contemplated joining the Dominicans but entered the novitiate of the Benedictine monastery at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire at the age of 18. He was a pupil at the well-respected independent school Ampleforth College between the ages of 13 and 18. He took the name Basil when he received the habit, and he was solemnly professed in 1945.

After studying at Ampleforth, Hume went on to study at St Benet's Hall, Oxford, a Benedictine institution, where he graduated with a degree in theology.Thereafter, he earned a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

He was ordained a priest on 23 July 1950. Returning to Ampleforth to teach modern languages, he became its abbot in 1963.


On 9 February 1976, Hume was appointed Archbishop of Westminster, the highest ranking prelate in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, by Pope Paul VI. He was not an obvious choice for Archbishop as he had no experience running a diocese and as the first monk to hold the post since the 1850 restoration of the English hierarchy he was seen to be something of an outsider. Receiving news of the appointment during dinner, Hume later remarked, "I must confess I did not enjoy the rest of the meal".[4]

Hume received his episcopal consecration on the following 25 March (the feast of the Annunciation) from Archbishop Bruno Heim, with Bishops Basil Butler, OSB, and John McClean serving as co-consecrators, in Westminster Cathedral.


He was created Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestro in Capite by Paul VI in the consistory of 24 May 1976, and was one of the cardinal electors in the conclaves of August and October 1978. He was considered by many the most Papabile Englishman since Cardinal Pole in 1548-1550.

Cardinal Hume's time in office saw Catholicism become more accepted in British society than it had been for 400 years, culminating in the first visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Westminster Cathedral in 1995. He had previously read the Epistle at the installation ceremony of Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury in 1980. It was also during his tenure in Westminster that Pope John Paul II made a groundbreaking visit to England.

Styles of
Basil Hume, O.S.B., O.M.
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Westminster

In 1998, Hume asked John Paul II for permission to retire, expressing the wish to return to Ampleforth and devote his last years to peace and solitude, fly fishing and following his beloved Newcastle United Football Club. The request was refused.

He was diagnosed with inoperable abdominal cancer in April 1999. On 2 June of that same year, Queen Elizabeth awarded him the Order of Merit.[5] He died just over two weeks later in Westminster, London, at age 76.[6] After a funeral service broadcast live on national television, he was buried in Westminster Cathedral. John Paul II, in his message of condolence to the Church in England and Wales, praised Hume as a "shepherd of great spiritual and moral character".[7]


Hume was seen as moderate in his theological positions, trying to please both liberals and conservatives.[8] While condemning homosexual acts, for instance, he accepted the validity of love between gay people.[9] Moreover, he was opposed to women priests[10] but described most detractors of Humanae Vitae as "good, conscientious and faithful".[11] This should not be taken to mean that Cardinal Hume dissented from the Catholic Church's teachings on contraception, however, since he supported Humanae Vitae.[12]


Hume's success as Archbishop of Westminster—he was regularly named Britain's most popular religious figure in opinion polls—was attributed by some to the great humility and warmth with which he treated everyone he met, regardless of their religion or background.


Statue of Cardinal Basil Hume in Newcastle

  • A statue of Cardinal Hume was erected in his home town of Newcastle and unveiled by the Queen in 2002.[3]
  • The Cardinal Hume Centre based in Westminster works to improve the lives of homeless young people, families, and other vulnerable and socially excluded members of society.[13]
  • The Cardinal Hume Rose is named after him.
  • The Cardinal Hume Catholic School has been recently opened in Wrekenton, part of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. It is replacing the aging St Edmund Campion School, and accommodates over a thousand students, in state of the art surroundings.[14]
  • The Hume Theatre of St Mary's Catholic School in Bishop's Stortford is named after him, and he opened it a few years before he died.


  • He was a lifelong fan of jogging, squash and Newcastle United F.C.[4] There exists a story whereby Cardinal Hume met 'Wor' Jackie Milburn, the Newcastle United legend.[15] Both unassuming men, they were in awe of each other. After a conversation, the talk moved on and one suggested an autograph would be a good idea. The other agreed. Both men stood back and expected to be the recipient of the autograph, without realising the other man wanted their autograph in return.
  • Hume was the last Archbishop of Westminster to employ a Gentiluomo. The Gentiluomo was a form of ceremonial bodyguard who accompanied the Archbishop at formal occasions. As the role had become archaic, no new Gentiluomo was appointed after the death of Hume's Gentiluomo, Anthony Bartlett, OBE, in 2001.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Carmel Heenan
Archbishop of Westminster
Succeeded by
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Preceded by
John Carmel Heenan
Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestro in Capite
Succeeded by
Desmond Connell

See also


  1. Miranda, Salvador. "George Basil Hume". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  2. "English Catholics: a singular history & an uncertain future". Commonweal. 15 January 2008. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Urwin, Ray. "The statue of Cardinal George 'Basil' Hume outside St. Mary's Cathedral.". Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Time Magazine. Jogger's Progress 1 March 1976
  5. "Queen honours dying Hume". BBC. 1999-06-02. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  6. "Roman Catholic leader Hume dies". BBC. 1999-06-17. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  7. "Pope's Tribute to Hume - full text". BBC. 1999-06-25. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  8. Archdiocese of Westminster. Cardinal George Basil Hume 11 January 2005
  9. "Basil Hume: From Monk to Cardinal". BBC. 1999-06-25. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  10. Time Asia. Milestones 28 June 1999
  11. Time Magazine. Milestones 28 June 1999
  12. The Tablet. Obituary of Cardinal Basil Hume 26 June 1999
  13. Cardinal Hume Centre
  14. Cardinal Hume Catholic School
  15. "Football: The Sweeper". Independent. 1998-08-29. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
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simple:Basil Hume sv:Basil Hume

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