The former Archbishop of Southwark Peter Smith has died at the age of 76.
In a letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese, Most Rev John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark said Archbishop Peter passed away on 6th March after a short and intense battle with cancer.
"Archbishop Peter had received the sacraments and prayers of the Church and was visited in hospital by family and friends," he wrote.
"I was able to visit him earlier that evening and he was also visited by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.
"Archbishop Peter's illness progressed very quickly following his diagnosis of cancer just a few weeks ago."
Archbishop Peter's time in Catholic Church ministry spanned almost 50 years.
He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark, Rector of St John's Seminary, Wonersh, Bishop of East Anglia, Archbishop of Cardiff and Archbishop of Southwark until his retirement last July. While Archbishop of Southwark, he also served from
2014-2015 as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
"…Archbishop Peter made an outstanding contribution to the Catholic Church across three dioceses, and nationally through his service on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales," Archbishop John continued.
"Most importantly, he was a disciple who witnessed to Christ with straightforward, splendid faith and radiant joy.
"Together with the other dioceses in which Archbishop Peter served, we mourn him with enormous affection and deep gratitude for all he gave so willingly and selflessly to so many people."
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference has praised the archbishop for his dedication to God.
"Archbishop Peter devoted his life entirely and unwaveringly to the service of the Lord in his Church," he wrote.
"Peter served as bishop in three dioceses. There are, then, many who will remember him personally and treasure those memories.
"He was a fine leader in the Bishops' Conference, acting as Vice-President for many years and leading our efforts in matters of social policy. He was a steadfast and effective opponent of all measures in favour of assisted dying. We owe him deep
gratitude for his unflinching leadership.
"Peter's warmth of character and strong personality will be sorely missed, not least by me."
Funeral details have not yet been announced.