Pope Names New Westminster Prelate

Birmingham Archbishop to Succeed Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor

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LONDON, APRIL 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church in the United Kingdom has a lot to offer to the greater good of society, according to the new archbishop of Westminster.

Benedict XVI appointed today Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham as the successor of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who has retired for reasons of age.

Archbishop Nichols, 63, will thus take leadership of an archdiocese where he already served as auxiliary bishop (from 1991 to 2000). The archdiocese ministers to some 500,000 Catholics, with 216 parishes and 380 diocesan priests.

The soccer-loving prelate is known in Britain for his regular appearances on BBC radio and television — and he was successful at stopping the BBC from running a satirical series about the Vatican called «Popetown.»

He also took a leading role in stopping government plans to regulate quotas for acceptance to Catholic schools. Less successfully, Archbishop Nichols also tried to stop British legislation to force Catholic adoption agencies to consider same-sex couples.

«I know that as I prepare to take on this new office in the Church many people will pray to the Lord that I will be strengthened for this task — and that is what I definitely need,» the prelate said. «We often hear of the challenges facing our country in finding cohesion in the face of great diversity. Our churches are places where people are from a wide variety of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They come together, work together and contribute together to the wider good of our society. The Church in this country has a great deal to offer and I hope to do my best to contribute to that project in this new role.»


Vincent Nichols was born in Crosby in 1945. He studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained in 1969 as a priest of Liverpool. He went on to study two master’s degrees in England and in Chicago, and would later serve as the general secretary of the bishops’ conference in England and Wales.

In 2000, he was appointed the archbishop of Birmingham.

Archbishop Nichols will be installed at Westminster Cathedral on May 21.

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