Archbishop Nichols Installed in Westminster

Urges Respect for Communities of Faith

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LONDON, MAY 22, 2009 ( In his installation Mass on Thursday as the leader of the Archdiocese of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols underlined the importance of respecting the faith of individuals and communities for the good of society.

The archdiocese reported that 2,200 guests attended the installation Mass in Westminster Cathedral including state dignitaries, cardinals, bishops, the papal nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, and over 500 priests.

In his homily, Archbishop Nichols spoke about the importance of faith, which «builds community and it expresses itself in action.»

«As a society,» he said, «if we are to build on this gift of faith, we must respect its outward expression not only in honoring individual conscience but also in respecting the institutional integrity of the communities of faith in what they bring to public service and to the common good.»

The prelate referred to the example of St. Paul, who «learned that his faith in Christ was compatible with the mind’s capacity for reasoned thought» and «complemented it.»

We human beings, he affirmed, are not destined to be shaped by a «political ideology, or under economic demands.»

Our humanity, the archbishop explained, is «more deeply rooted» and is a «gift to be respected not only from its beginnings to its natural end, but also in the other ethical demands it places on us all.»

«The paradox of faith is that when we conform our lives to Christ then we gain our true freedom,» he affirmed.

He added: «And its fruit is profound and lasting happiness. This is the testimony of the true disciples of Jesus, great and humble alike.

«It is a testimony which shines across the ages and still in our day.»

Working together

The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, addressed Archbishop Nichols on behalf of the co-presidents of Churches Together in England.

He noted that the relations between the churches in England have become «closer and warmer than perhaps ever before.»

«The fact that the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in England have been able to meet more than once for prayer and reflection, as well as for discussion of the challenges we share in witnessing to the Christian faith in our nation, is a welcome development,» Williams affirmed.

He expressed the desire to continue working along these lines with Archbishop Nichols, as he did with the prelate’s predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who retired for reasons of age.

Original music was composed for the Mass by Colin Mawby, the former master of music for the cathedral.

The archbishop wore new vestments commissioned for the occasion, made of cloth of gold fabric with a design of griffins to symbolize the dual nature of Christ.

The archdiocese has some 500,000 Catholics, with 216 parishes and 380 diocesan priests.

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