It’s no surprise, but good to have it confirmed/ Vincent Nichols of Westminster is included among the new cardinals named today by Pope Francis, for inclusion in next month’s consistory. This appointment should be welcomed, by LGBT Catholics everywhere.
There are some in our community who were deeply hurt and angered by his ending of the Soho Masses for LGBT Catholics in Warwick Street, and especially for the manner in which it was done, without meaningful consultation, a year ago. However, to counter that criticism, we must remember that prior to that announcement, he had held out for a long time, resisting extensive pressure from both Rome and local conservative activists to do so. Some years before Pope Francis attracted world – wide attention for his statement about gay Catholics, “Who am I to judge?”, Nichols had said much the same thing. At the time of Benedict’s papal visit to the UK, he responded to the expectations of some conservative Catholics, that openly gay people at the Soho Masses should be denied communion, and expressed outrage that others (like myself) were not only presenting themselves for communion, but acting as Eucharistic ministers, he said in effect, that it was not for outsiders to judge the state of a person’s soul, but only that person him/herself. He went on to outrage the critics of the Soho Masses, with the pointed insistence that they should “hold their tongues”.
When eventually he did succumb to the pressure, he showed remarkable creativity: instead of simply ending the Masses, he arranged with the Jesuits to offer the community a new home in their parish in Mayfair, where although reduced in numbers, they have continued to flourish, adding new activities to replace some of what had been lost.
At the time of the move of the Soho Masses congregation to Farm Street, he has met with the full congregation at a reception after the first Mass, he has met with the full Westminster LGBT Pastoral Council, and with the current chair and vice-chair of Quest (and with an earlier chair, two years ago).
He was also one of the first senior bishops to temper his public opposition to gay marriage, with a statement that there could be value in civil unions for same – sex couples.
LGBT Catholics should be grateful that we now have a friend in high places. He has already been named to the Congregation for bishops, and will participate in the selection of new men for the office, and is likely to participate in time, in the next conclave to elect Pope Francis’ successor.
We welcome and applaud the new cardinal – Vincent Nishols of Westminster.
.From the Tablet:
After almost five years in Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols is named a cardinal by Pope Francis
The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, is to be made a cardinal, Pope Francis announced today.
He, along with 18 others, including men from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, will be appointed at the upcoming consistory in Rome on 22 February.
Pope Francis made the announcement to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at the end of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square.
Archbishop Nichols will become the only cardinal of voting age in England and Wales. The former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, turned 80 last year, making him ineligible to vote in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
Vincent Nichols was born in Crosby, Merseyside, in 1945 and trained at the Venerable English College, Rome. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Liverpool on 21 December 1969 and served there for 14 years before taking on a number of roles in the Catholic Bishops Conference for England and Wales.
He was named an auxiliary bishop for Westminster by Pope John Paul II in 1991 and was made a bishop in 1992, aged 46, then the youngest in the UK. He was made Archbishop of Birmingham in 2000, where he served until being named Archbishop of Westminster in 2009.
In December Pope Francis appointed him to the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body that oversees appointments to the episcopacy.
Highlights of his time as Archbishop of Westminster included the success of the Papal Visit of Pope Emeritus Benedict to the UK in 2010; however during the same period he came under pressure from Rome for his support of the “Soho Masses” set up to support lesbian and gay Catholics and their families.
via The Tablet – News.
- Archbishop Nichols Joins Congregation for Bishops. (news.queerchurch.com)
- Pope names 19 new cardinals, focusing on the poor (thestate.com)
- Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols made a Cardinal by Pope Francis (telegraph.co.uk)
- Archbishop Nichols named a cardinal by Pope Francis (catholicherald.co.uk)