Prominent Catholic figures believe a monk at a Scottish abbey is a leading candidate to become the next Archbishop of Westminster, the highest office of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Scotland on Sunday newspaper reports.
Abbot Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., heads Pluscarden Abbey in the Moray council area town of Eglin. His orthodoxy and leadership have reportedly impressed important churchmen, though the final decision for the Archbishop of Westminster’s successor remains with Pope Benedict XVI.
The abbot, 55, is known as a traditionalist and has presided over an expansion of his Benedictine abbey and the founding of two offshoots in America and Africa. A convert to Catholicism, Abbot Hugh became a monk in 1974 and was elected abbot at Pluscarden Abbey in 1992.
According to the Scotland on Sunday, one senior Catholic acknowledged Abbot Hugh was a candidate for the major archbishopric. "He is a quiet, scholarly monk who would probably accept the appointment out of obedience to the church."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is the current Archbishop of Westminster. He was set to retire when he turned 75 in 2007 but was asked to remain in office.
Other clergy believed to be likely choices for the see of Westminster include: Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols, a supporter of the Pope’s liturgical renewal movement; Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith, who has been prominent in pro-life issues; and Bishop of Leeds Arthur Roche, who is responsible for revising the text of the Mass.