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William Godfrey

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His Eminence 
William Godfrey
Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
William Godfrey
Province Westminster
See Westminster
Enthroned 9 May 1905
Reign ended 22 January 1963
Predecessor Bernard Griffin
Successor John Carmel Heenan
Ordination 28 October 1916 (Priest)
Consecration 21 December 1938 (Bishop)
Created Cardinal 15 December 1958
Rank Cardinal priest of Ss. Nereo ed Achilleo
Other Archbishop of Liverpool 1953-1958
Personal details
Born 25 July 1889(1889-07-25)
Liverpool, England
Died 22 January 1963 (aged 73)
London, England
Buried Westminster Cathedral
Nationality British
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents George and Mary Godfrey
Styles of
William Cardinal Godfrey
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Westminster

William Godfrey (1889–1963) was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Westminster from 1956 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1958.[1]


William Godfrey was born in Liverpool to George and Mary Godfrey. His father was a haulage contractor.[2] He leaned towards the priesthood from an early age, never taking another career into serious consideration.[3] After studying at Ushaw College and the Venerable English College, he was ordained on 28 October 1916 in Rome. He then finished his studies in 1918, obtaining his doctorates in divinity and philosophy in 1917, and did pastoral work in Liverpool until 1919. He taught Classics, Philosophy and Theology at Ushaw from 1918 to 1930, the year when he was raised to the rank of Domestic Prelate of His Holiness (28 October), with the title of monsignor, and appointed rector of the English College. At the College, the strict priest was known to his students as "Uncle Bill". In 1935, Godfrey was made a member of the Pontifical Commission to Malta, and he was in official attendance at the 1937 coronation of King George VI.

On 21 November 1938, he was appointed Titular Bishop of Cius and first Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain, Gibraltar and Malta. Godfrey, who was the first papal representative to England since the Reformation,[4] received his episcopal consecration on the following 21 December from Cardinal Raffaele Rossi, OCD, with Archbishop Luigi Traglia and Bishop Ralph Hayes serving as co-consecrators, in the chapel of the English College. He was also chargé d'affaires of the Holy See to Poland in 1943, and was made Archbishop of Liverpool on 10 November 1953.

Pope Pius XII named Godfrey as Archbishop of Westminster, and thus the ranking prelate of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, on 3 December 1956. During his installation, Godfrey condemned Communism and professed his mission as returning England "back to the love of Christ".[3] He also called for English Catholics to feed their pets less during Lent,[5] and was vehemently opposed to birth control.[6] Godfrey was created Cardinal Priest of Ss. Nereo ed Achilleo by Pope John XXIII in the consistory of 15 December 1958.

Godfrey, who enjoyed the piano and sports,[3] lived long enough to attend only the first session of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, and died from a heart attack in London, at age 73.[6] He is buried in Westminster Cathedral and had his portrait sculpted by Arthur Fleischmann.


  1. Miranda, Salvador. "William Godfrey". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  2. TIME Magazine. The New Cardinals 22 December 1958
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 TIME Magazine. New Archbishop 18 February 1957
  4. TIME Magazine. Pope & Democracy 5 December 1938
  5. TIME Magazine. Lent for Man & Beast 24 February 1961
  6. 6.0 6.1 TIME Magazine. Milestones 1 February 1963

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Richard Downey
Archbishop of Liverpool
Succeeded by
John Carmel Heenan
Preceded by
Bernard Griffin
Archbishop of Westminster
Succeeded by
John Carmel Heenan
la:Gulielmus Godfrey

no:William Godfrey

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