Yesterday, Pope Francis announced in his Sunday morning Angelus that there would be 19 new cardinals, one of whom is Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster. Nichols called it a “humbling moment” and it most certainly is in a career that started way back in 1963.
Vincent Nichols calling came when he was watching Liverpool at Anfield. He was standing on the Kop and asked God why he wouldn’t leave him alone because he just wanted to become a lorry driver. He studied for the Priesthood in Rome and was ordained a priest in 1969. He became a bishop at 46 in 1992, and was the youngest one in the country. He then went on to become Archbishop of Birmingham at the turn of the century before becoming Archbishop of Westminster in 2009, a personal decision by Pope Benedict XVI it was said to be.
For many in the UK, it is very good that we now have a voice again in the conclave and it is even better that it is Nichols that is that voice. Nichols has spoken out many times on issues of social justice and that is most probably why Pope Francis has chosen him. He has criticised capitalism and believes that business has lost its way and needs to reground itself on moral principles.
He is a great leader, a man of extreme holiness and somebody who is not afraid to speak out for the most vulnerable in society. In February, he will officially recieve his title and I can firmly say that the Catholic Church of England and Wales is in very safe hands with Nichols as Cardinal.
May we all keep Vincent Nichols in our prayers that he continues to serve with faith and reverence in his new role.
I must say that I was also delighted to see the Archbishop of Rio De Janeiro, Orani João Tempesta. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at World Youth Day in Brazil last year. He is a man of extremely good faith, a great leader and somebody who has done a lot of work with the poor in Rio. Both he and Nichols and all the other chosen cardinals will lead the Church into a new era where the main concern for all Catholics is the support of the poor.