The life of the spiritual pugilist and eminent Scottish Cardinal Thomas Winning, leader of Scotland’s Catholics until his death in June 2001.
Stephen McGinty tells for the first time the full life story of Cardinal Thomas Winning, arguably the most controversial and pugnacious archbishop in recent British history.
Cardinal Winning’s father was an unemployed miner in Lanarkshire, whose illegitimate birth remained a family secret Winning took to his grave. Raised in a crucible of anti-Catholicism, Winning – as priest, bishop and cardinal – set about moving the Catholic Church, by sheer force of his own personality, out of the ghetto and into the mainstream. His stated ambition was to build the City of God on the streets of Glasgow, but his pastoral plan for spiritual renewal fell on somewhat stony ground – partly because of problems with his priests, partly through his own impatience. As Archbishop of Glasgow, he almost bankrupted his diocese with a debt of £10 million, yet still found the funds to offer cash to dissuade women from having an abortion.
Cardinal Winning never ceased to be an outspoken and unashamed champion of traditional Catholic values, fiercely anti-abortion and anti-homosexual acts. Too conservative for the Conservative Party yet too socialist for New Labour, he picked fights with both, while his sympathy for the poor remained constant.
Before his death in 2001, Cardinal Winning gave dozens of hours of exclusive interviews to the author, who has also enjoyed the assistance of Winning’s family, friends and colleagues. In exploring the complicated and conflicting character of the cardinal, Stephen McGinty reveals the vulnerable, prejudiced and quietly spiritual man beneath the red hat and the new Scotland he helped to forge.