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Former Archbishop of Southwark Michael Bowen has died

London SE1 website team

The Most Revd Michael Bowen, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark from 1977 to 2003, has died aged 89. He hosted Pope John Paul II's visit to Southwark in 1982.

Former Archbishop of Southwark Michael Bowen has died
Archbishop Michael Bowen pictured in 2010 at St George's Cathedral

Born in 1930, Michael Bowen worked as a wine merchant before ordination to the priesthood.

Archbishop Bowen was appointed to the Southwark archdiocese in 1977 after six years as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

His tenure included Pope John Paul II's momentous 1982 visit to St George's Cathedral as part of his UK tour.

Archbishop Bowen's appointment was announced six months after the sudden death of his predecessor Cyril Cowderoy who had been known for his lack of enthusiasm for ecumenism and reservations about Second Vatican Council reforms.

Michael Bowen disliked conflict and his 26 years in office saw Christian unity initiatives develop across the Southwark Archdiocese including the opening of St Paul's Ecumenical Church in Thamesmead where in 1990 he appointed Fr John O'Toole, future dean of St George's Cathedral, as parish priest.

He retired in 2003 at the age of 73.

His friends in Southwark included the late Hilary Wines, well-known local councillor and past mayor, with whom he shared both a 23 April birthday and links to Gibraltar.

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