Vacancy on the South Bank
Installed to lead the 380,000-member church five years ago this week, the Holy See announced the acceptance of McDonald's retirement by Pope Benedict in its noontime Bollettino today. The archbishop has reportedly been in poor health for some time with both advanced osteo-arthritis and cardiovascular troubles that've already seen him undergo a triple bypass.
Ordained a bishop in 2001, McDonald served at the Vatican from 1985-93 as head of the Anglican Desk in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Comprising London's southern half and Kent, the Southwark church is Britain's third largest diocese after Liverpool and Westminster. This morning's vacancy likewise gives B16 his third open archdiocese in the UK in the last year alone following his appointments of Vincent Nichols to Westminster in March and Bernard Longley to Birmingham in October.
On a related note, Longley will be installed in the West Midlands on Tuesday's feast of the Immaculate Conception... and, of course, the pontiff is widely expected to be making a visit to Britain next September.