Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pope Demotes Archbishop Over His 'Lifestyle'

BRITAIN'S highest representative at the Vatican, who had been tipped to become a cardinal, has been moved sideways because of his "lifestyle", it was reported yesterday.

Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, 68, had been among the candidates likely to be given the coveted red cardinal's hat by Pope Benedict XVI next month, when he holds his first consistory - a special gathering of cardinals. But instead he has been given a new job as the papal ambassador in Egypt - widely seen as a demotion despite nearly 20 years service.

Archbishop Fitzgerald, of Walsall, in the Midlands, had been head of the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue since 2002 and was a key figure in the late pope John Paul II's Curia - the Vatican "Cabinet".

But yesterday's Repubblica newspaper said the move was a "huge shock, which had cost him the chance of being named a cardinal". It added: "There are voices that he has been moved because of his lifestyle".

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