27 March 2014, The Tablet

New archbishop plans to ‘get the smell of the sheep’

The next Archbishop of Liverpool says he plans to “get the smell of the sheep” in his new diocese, quoting a phrase used by Pope Francis when he urged priests to be close to their people, writes Christopher Lamb.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon was appointed to his new role by the Pope on 21 March, as predicted in The Tablet last week.

The 64-year-old Dominican, who has been Bishop of Nottingham since 2000, succeeds Archbishop Patrick Kelly, who offered his resignation last year on health grounds.

“The Pope has told the clergy – bishops, priests and deacons – to get among the people, to ‘get the smell of the sheep’, and that is what I intend to do,” he said. “From the day on which I am installed as archbishop, I will give my life to all the people of this archdiocese, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.”

The archbishop-elect paid tribute to the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s work with the poor, to Fr James Nugent (1822-1905), who worked to alleviate child poverty, and to the partnership between Archbishop Derek Worlock and the Anglican Bishop David Sheppard in the last decades of the twentieth century. He said those two bishops “reflected the traditional, deep concerns of our city for issues of social justice”. He also paid tribute to the determination of the people of Liverpool “to seek justice” for those who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. “The dignity of their families when they were left voiceless, is a powerful witness to us all,” he said.

Before entering religious life in 1976, Bishop McMahon studied mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and then worked for London Transport.  
He will be installed in Liverpool on 1 May.

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