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I don’t want to be next Catholic leader, monk tells the Pope

A monk chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales has declined the post at the last minute, it emerged last night.

Dom Hugh Gilbert, the Abbot of Pluscarden Benedictine Abbey in Scotland, had originally said he would be happy to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster.

But then one of his key aides left the abbey – after falling in love with a woman.

Worried that his monastic community would break up, Dom Hugh told the Pope he had changed his mind.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, 76, who wants to retire in the next three months, is said to be ‘ furious’ that the abbot has snubbed the Pope.

The Vatican had been due to announce Dom Hugh’s appointment tomorrow.

It remains to be seen if the Pope will begin the search for a new candidate or whether he will order Dom Hugh, 55, to accept a promotion that would see him becoming England’s next cardinal.

• Full story at the Daily Mail.

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