London--(RNS) Next spring, when the Vatican is likely to name a newarchbishop of Glasgow to succeed the late Cardinal Thomas Winning, oneof the first things to land on his desk will be a request from theAnglican bishop of Carlisle to consider lifting the curse laid on Borderreivers--cattle-thieving outlaws--by a 16th century archbishop.

As part of its millennium celebrations, Carlisle opened a millenniumgallery. One of the exhibits illustrates the history of this border cityand the region around it -- including a stone inscribed with ArchbishopGavin Dunbar's curse.

Initial objections to the exhibit only grew throughout the year whenthe region became one of those most severely affected by the outbreak offoot-and-mouth disease. At one point it was raging so fiercely that thelocal Anglican bishop, the Right Rev. Graham Dow, was unable to leavehis residence.

Writing in his parish magazine, a local vicar, the Rev. KevinDavies, noted that the curse had been successful in its initial context--they no longer suffered raids across the border. But, he went on, "tore-invoke this curse at this time was unnecessary, inappropriate, andshows astonishing complacency regarding the reality of power in thespiritual realm.

"The land retains what is spoken against it, and the violence actedupon it," Davies said. Describing the inscribed stone as "a lethalweapon," he said that it and the curse it brought needed to be broken,"both literally and spiritually," for all time.

While Dow does not share the view that the stone has contributed tothe foot-and-mouth epidemic, he would still like the new archbishop tolift the curse. "I understand that it is a piece of history and it isreasonable for it to be known about, but words have power, and inasmuchas the curse wishes evil on people it should be revoked," he said.

In the original curse, Dunbar condemned the cattle thieves"perpetually to the deep pit of hell, to remain with Lucifer and alltheir followers, and their bodies to the gallows of the Burrow Moor,first to be hanged, then to be torn and savaged by dogs, swine and otherbeasts, abominable to all the world."

In Glasgow they seem a little more skeptical. "I have heard of manyimaginative reasons for the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease,but this one takes the biscuit," said a spokesman for the archdiocese."I am sure that when a new archbishop is appointed he will consider therequest (for the curse to be lifted), though I can't imagine it will beamong his first priorities."