Archbishop of Liverpool reflects on his ‘creaking bones’ in letter of resignation to Pope Francis

The Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, has been reflecting on his recent Letter of Resignation that he submitted to Pope Francis. The letter is standard protocol when a member of the hierarchy reaches their 75th birthday, and the response from the Vatican is often an extension of service.

Writing in his editorial column in this month’s Liverpool archdiocesan magazine, Archbishop McMahon said: “A few weeks ago, I sent the Holy Father Pope Francis my resignation as Archbishop of Liverpool, as I am requested by canon law to tender my resignation on my 75th birthday.

“There is unlikely to be a quick reply to my letter as the process of finding a replacement can take months if not years.

“To be honest I don’t understand why this should be the case as it is not as if my birthday is a secret. However, there is a little bit of me that is relieved about that, as I have really enjoyed my time in the archdiocese, and any extra time I will consider as an unexpected bonus. When I arrived in Liverpool, I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received, but I felt that you were deserving of a younger man with more energy and vision as your archbishop, and I hope that my successor will be such a person. One of the first things I did was to get a new pensioners’ bus pass and then I applied for my state pension – hardly symbols of youth and dynamism in your new archbishop.

“After a few months settling in I began to realise that the future of the archdiocese didn’t depend on me but on God, and especially God’s Spirit working through his people and priests. That change of attitude comes with age too. Less energy and creaking bones have enabled me to let go (just a little bit) and let God get on with caring for his Church.”

The Most Reverend Malcolm Patrick McMahon OP

The Most Reverend Malcolm Patrick McMahon OP was born and brought up in London, the second of three brothers. When he left school, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. He then worked in the transport industry before joining the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 1976.

He made his religious profession in 1977, and studied philosophy at Blackfriars, Oxford and theology at Heythrop College, London. He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Basil Hume on 26 June 1982.

He lived in Holy Cross Priory, Leicester between 1984 and 1985, during which time he served as Catholic Chaplain to Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University), before moving to St Dominic’s, Haverstock Hill, in north London.  He later served as Parish Priest of St Dominic’s, Newcastle-upon-Tyne before returning to St Dominic’s, Haverstock Hill as parish priest.  In 1992, he was elected Prior Provincial of the English Province of the Order of Preachers; having served for two terms as Prior Provincial, in 2000 he was elected Prior of Blackfriars, Oxford.

On 7 November 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him ninth Bishop of Nottingham, and he was ordained to the episcopate by Bishop James McGuinness in St Barnabas’ Cathedral, Nottingham on 8 December 2000.

It was announced that Archbishop McMahon had been appointed ninth Archbishop of Liverpool on Friday 21 March 2014.  He was installed as Archbishop on Thursday 1 May 2014, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Archbishop McMahon is Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference. He is also National President of Pax Christi, the International Catholic Movement for Peace.