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Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. An English Spring
Memoirs  Bloomsbury 2015 £20 ISBN 978-1-4729-1314-2 232pp

'Have we any right to take it strange, if, in this English land, the spring-time of the Church should turn out to be an English spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and suffering - of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms?' With these words new convert John Henry Newman in 1852 addressed the first gathering of Roman Catholic bishops since the Reformation. This image of restoration is borrowed as heading for his autobiography by Cardinal Cormac whose days like us all have contained sunshine and storms.

It is an easy read made so by his natural style which helps the reader feel at home with him be it at a parish dance, breakfast with Prince Philip, with abandoned children in an orphanage or voting for a new Pope in the Sistine Chapel. He charts the sunshine of a catholic family upbringing, the …