Westminster Archbishop to Head Episcopal Conference

Unanimous Vote Elected Archbishop Nichols

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LEEDS, England, APRIL 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Vincent Nichols was elected «unanimously» as president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales.

The conference announced today that the archbishop of Westminster was elected at their plenary meeting in Leeds, which started Monday and ends today.

Archbishop Nichols affirmed the «great privilege to be asked to serve as the president» of the conference.

He added: «While each diocesan bishop is fully responsible for his own diocese, the bishops’ conference is our own way of working together, supporting each other and taking forward shared projects and matters of common interest.

«I look forward very much to playing a key part in the life of the conference, in which we all enjoy deep bonds of faith and friendship.»

The prelate was appointed to the Westminster archdiocese on April 3, and will be installed on May 21.

The soccer-loving archbishop 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 tried to stop British legislation to force Catholic adoption agencies to consider same-sex couples.

The election results for other department heads included Archbishop Peter Smith as the conference vice-president, while remaining in charge of the department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon was chosen succeed Archbishop Nichols as head of the department for Catholic Education and Formation.

Bishop Kieran Conry was elected to head the department for Evangelization and Catechesis, and Bishop Declan Lang will chair the department for International Affairs.

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