THE Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, is due to return to his official residence in Mossley Hill tomorrow to continue his convalescence after suffering a slight stroke towards the end of last year.
It follows the 74-year-old’s announcement earlier this week that he intends to retire from the post he has held since July, 1996.
Thanking the public for their support, Archbishop Kelly said: “Thank you for all the prayers and messages I have received in the past few weeks; they have been deeply moving and much appreciated. Although the recovery has gone well, I have decided that I must offer to the Holy Father my resignation as Archbishop of Liverpool.”
Once his offer is accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, the process of choosing his successor will begin. There is no time limit for the procedure, which is conducted in the strictest secrecy.
In the meantime, the Archdiocese will appoint an administrator who effectively acts in a caretaker role.
The Auxiliary (Assistant) Bishop of Liverpool, Tom Williams, has been fulfilling Archbishop Kelly’s engagements and will be a strong contender to take over the administrator role.
Historically, however, there is little precedent for the archbishop being chosen from within the Liverpool Archdiocese.
Of the eight who have held the role since it was created in 1911, only one, William Godfrey (1953-56), was born in the Liverpool area, although his predecessor, Richard Downey (1928-53), who was Irish-born, grew up and was educated in Liverpool.