- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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Pope Francis today appointed the Bishop of Nottingham as the next Archbishop of Liverpool, the diocese traditionally seen as the stronghold of Catholicism in England and Wales.
Malcolm McMahon, 64, a Dominican religious and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service (CES), succeeds Archbishop Patrick Kelly, who submitted his resignation last year on the grounds of ill health.
Liverpool has traditionally been one of the Church’s most important sees and has been in need of a new archbishop since the retirement of Patrick Kelly, who submitted his resignation on the grounds of ill health 14 months ago.
Bishop McMahon was widely tipped as a contender to be Archbishop of Westminster back in 2009.
Born in London, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (Umist) and after graduation worked for the Daimler Motor Company in Coventry and London Transport.
He joined the Dominicans in 1976, was ordained a priest in 1982 and Bishop of Nottingham in 2000.
Liverpool is a large, vibrant diocese but has been struggling with a Catholic population shifting from the city centre to the suburbs and an ageing clergy. In 2012 Archbishop Kelly commissioned lay people to undertake funeral ceremonies in order to relieve the pressure on clergy.
Speaking of his appointment, the archbishop-elect said: "From the day of my installation I will do my level best to lead, guide and serve the people of this great Archdiocese, in Liverpool, west Lancashire and the Isle of Man, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. There is much work to be done, because the challenges which we face as a community are real. But we are a people of hope; just as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is visible for miles around, speaking to us of God’s presence in our midst, I pray that all of us in the Archdiocese of Liverpool will be living signs of God’s eternal love, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in all that we say and do."
Bishop McMahon is seen as theologically moderate who has in the past been quoted saying that the Church could ordain married men. However, he later clarified his remarks to say he believed that clerical celibacy was “not a mere external rule but spiritual necessity”.
He has also celebrated the old rite of the Mass while arguing that large, international liturgies should be said in Latin.
His installation will take place on 1 May 2014, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.
Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)