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Tony Blair's tribute to cardinal Murphy-O'Connor who 'led life of joy'

By Scott D'Arcy

Tributes have been paid to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who has died aged 85.

The former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales died yesterday after a battle with cancer.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said he was "very saddened".

He added: "Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was a deeply spiritual priest, known for his warmth, good humour and humility.

"Any time I met Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, he was always proud of his heritage and held great affection for the Church in this country."

Outspoken on issues including contraception and abortion, he was at times at odds with Tony Blair when he was in power before the ex-Labour leader turned to Catholicism in 2007.

A statement on behalf of Mr Blair and his wife Cherie said: "Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was a wonderful advertisement for Christianity and the Catholic Church. He led a life of commitment, dedication and compassion. But he also led a life of joy. He was a lovely person to be with and be around, with a great sense of humour and the sharpest of wits.

"I found him always a source of wisdom and genuine friendship. We will miss him greatly and give thanks for his life."

The head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was a "good friend" to Anglicans worldwide.

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