Sunday, 21 January 2007

The Warmth of Cardinal Cormac

An interesting story in the Sunday Times, this morning, about Don McCullin, the famous photojournalist, who has been invited to photograph ten spiritual leaders for a forthcoming exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Each was invited to chose a setting that represented their own tradition, and a source of their spiritual life.

Apparently McCullin, who is no stranger to the harshness of war and to scenes of deplorable inhumanity, found this new assignment to be one of his most difficult. He found all ten leaders 'unforgiving.' 'These people are giving guidance to others', he said, 'yet I never felt I could ask them any questions.'

Of all his subjects, only Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor (photographed in St Patrick's Chapel of Westminster Cathedral) 'showed any humour or tried to chat.' Having met a few of McCullins subjects, I find it more likely that they were overawed by the veteran photographer's status, rather than deliberately cold. It is good, however, that Cardinal Cormac, as usual, exuded warmth at his meeting - something for which he is greatly loved.

The exhibition, Faith and Church: Portraits by Don McCullin, will be shown in Room 40 of the National Portrait Gallery from 3 February until May.

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