Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor who died on 1 September, was a committed ecumenist and a long-standing co-chair of the Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). It was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that he should also be a friend of the Association of Interchurch Families and, in his two decades as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, he was unfailingly helpful to and supportive of interchurch families. Soon after he became Bishop, two of our founders, Martin and Ruth Reardon, went to live in his diocese and were surprised and pleased to be invited to dinner by Bishop Cormac along with two other interchurch couples – one already known to them as members of AIF and in the other case the husband was on the Bishop’s staff. He just wanted to know and understand more about interchurch families.
When his move to Westminster as Archbishop was announced in 2000 Bishop Cormac (as he still was) had already agreed to chair the John Coventry Memorial Lecture at which his friend and colleague, Dame Mary Tanner, was to speak on the work of ARCIC just days before his installation. The AIF organisers of the lecture expected to have to find someone else as we thought that, in the throes of preparing to go to Westminster, Bishop Cormac could hardly be expected to find time to chair the lecture. But no, he stuck to his commitment – it was his first engagement in his new Archdiocese, he said, before he had even arrived.
Once installed as Archbishop he became one of the Association’s Presidents and, after retiring, remained as a patron until 2013. When he finally stood down from this position he wrote “I will always take an interest in the Association which I have been close to and have supported for many years”. Members of AIF have good cause to remember in their prayers the Cardinal who liked to be known at Archbishop’s House as “Father Cormac”.