|The Most Reverend
|Archbishop of Westminster
President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop Vincent Nichols during Invocation 2010
|Appointed||3 April 2009|
|Installed||21 May 2009|
|Ordination||21 December 1969|
|Consecration||24 January 1992
by Basil Hume
|Birth name||Vincent Gerard Nichols|
8 November 1945 |
Crosby, Lancashire, England
|Residence||Archbishop's House, Ambrosden Avenue, London.|
|Parents||Henry and Mary (née Russell) Nichols|
|Coat of arms|
|Ordination history of Vincent Nichols|
|Date of ordination||21 December 1969|
|Principal consecrator||Basil Hume|
|Co-consecrator||Derek John Worlock|
|Co-consecrator||Alan Charles Clark|
|Date of consecration||24 January 1992|
|Place of consecration||Westminster Cathedral|
|Bishops consecrated by Vincent Nichols as principal consecrator|
|David Christopher McGough||8 December 2005|
|John Francis Sherrington||14 September 2011|
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Grace|
Vincent Gerard Nichols (born 8 November 1945) is Archbishop of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. He previously served as Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 to 2009.
- 1 Early life and ministry
- 2 Episcopal career
- 3 Views
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Early life and ministry
Vincent Nichols was born in Crosby, Lancashire, to Henry Joseph and Mary Nichols (née Russell); his parents were teachers. As a child he wanted to be a lorry driver, but felt a calling to the priesthood as a teenager.
He attended St Mary's College, Crosby, from 1956 to 1963. From St. Mary's he entered the Venerable English College, Rome. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Liverpool on 21 December 1969. He obtained the degree of Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1970.
Upon his return to England, Nichols studied at the University of Manchester for a year and earned a M.A. in Theology in 1971, specialising in the theology of St. John Fisher. He then served as assistant pastor at St Mary's Church, Wigan, as well as chaplain to St John Rigby College, Wigan, and St. Peter's High School, Wigan.
He received a Master's in Education from Loyola University Chicago in 1974 and was assigned to St. Anne's Church in Edge Hill in 1975. Father Nichols spent a total of 14 years in the Liverpool archdiocese. In 1980, he was appointed director of the Upholland Northern Institute. He also sat on the archiepiscopal council.
Nichols served as General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales from 1984 to 1993. In addition to his role within the CBCEW, he was moderator of the Steering Committee of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland from 1989 to 1996. He was chair of the Catholic Education Service from 1998.
On 5 November 1991, Nichols was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Othona by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on 24 January 1992 from Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB, serving with Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop Alan Clark as co-consecrators at Westminster Cathedral.
As an auxiliary, Nichols served as vicar for North London. He was appointed to the finance advisory committee of the National Catholic Fund in 1994 and to the CBCEW's Committee for the Roman Colleges in 1995, and became Episcopal Liaison of the CBCEW for the National Conference of Diocesan Financial Secreatries in 1996.
In 1998, he was made chairman of the CBCEW Department for Catholic Education and Formation, as well as chairman of the Catholic Education Service. Nichols represented the European bishops at the November 1998 Synod of Bishops from Oceania, and was a special secretary at the Synod of Bishops for Europe in September 1999. He presided over the burial of Cardinal Hume in 1999.
Archbishop of Birmingham
Nichols was named the eighth Archbishop of Birmingham on 15 February 2000. Succeeding the French-born Maurice Couve de Murville, he was installed as Archbishop on the following 29 March. He received the pallium from Pope John Paul II in Rome on 29 June 2000, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, at the same time as Cormac Murphy-O'Connor received his as Metropolitan of Westminster. Prior to his appointment to Birmingham, he had been considered a leading contender to replace the late Cardinal Hume as Archbishop of Westminster; the position ultimately went to Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
In 2001, Archbishop Nichols became chairman of the management board of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. He is also a patron of the International Young Leaders Network based at Blackfriars, Oxford. In 2008, he was named President of the Commission for Schools, Universities, and Catechesis in the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe. He is lead episcopal trustee of the three English seminaries outside the United Kingdom – The Royal English College, Valladolid, as well as the Collega Beda and the Venerable English Colleges in Rome. He is assisted in this role by two further episcopal trustees – Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Mark Jabalé, Bishop Emeritus of Menevia. He undertakes at least one "visitation" to each of these seminaries in each academic year.
By virtue of his status as ordinary of the Birmingham diocese, Nichols was Chairman of the Governing Body of Newman University College (now Newman University). Nichols has been an advocate of the cause of canonisation for Cardinal John Henry Newman. Nichols oversaw the attempted removal of Newman's remains from his grave in Worcestershire to the Oratory in Birmingham city centre in 2008, however on the opening of the grave no human remains were recoverable.
Nichols wrote two books: Promise of Future Glory and Missioners; and had the inspiration for the "Walk with Me" programme, which sought to bring people together in spiritual accompaniment through the seasons of the Church’s year. The initiative later spread to other dioceses.
His coat of arms includes a blue wavy band on a silver shield to represent the River Mersey, scallop shells to represent the Venerable English College in Rome, the red rose of Lancashire, and anchors representing Liverpool: surmounted by the customary green galero (ecclesiastical hat) with twenty green cords and tassels (for an archbishop).
Archbishop of Westminster
Nichols was appointed the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster by Pope Benedict XVI on 3 April 2009, and solemnly installed on 21 May 2009. The archdiocese, the primatial see of the Church in England and Wales, serves 472,600 Catholics. It was reported that Benedict XVI personally selected Nichols for the post after the Congregation for Bishops failed to reach a consensus.
In the time leading up to the appointment, Nichols' name had been repeatedly mentioned as a possible successor to Murphy-O'Connor, and his name was the only one to be on both ternas, or shortlist of candidates submitted to the Congregation for Bishops. A group of English Catholic bishops, as well as a Member of Parliament, had even expressed their concerns of promoting Nichols to Westminster to the Apostolic Nuncio, Faustino Sainz Muñoz, citing the Archbishop's ambition.
In his decision to accept the "daunting" role of Archbishop of Westminster, Nichols said he "just swallowed hard and said 'yes.'"
He succeeded Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2007. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor described his successor as "competent, compassionate, and experienced."
Given the fact that all of his predecessors in Westminster, ten in total, received the red hat, it came as a great surprise that Nichols was not elevated to the College of Cardinals at the Consistory called by the Pope in November 2012. This follows on from Murphy-O'Connor having reached the age of 80 on 24 August 2012 and no longer being able to participate in a papal conclave. This was also the first time in living memory that a Pope had called two Consistories for the creation of Cardinals within a single calendar year.
Once considered to be liberal, Nichols was perceived by some as having moved to more conservative positions. Some have suggested this was the result of advice early in his career from Archbishop Worlock to make himself more "Vatican-friendly" if he was to get ahead in the Church hierarchy. Before his enthronement as Archbishop of Westminster, he was vocal in defending the public reputation of the Catholic Church, notably criticising the BBC for what he called "biased and hostile" programming, which contributed to the decision by the BBC not to show the animated sitcom Popetown.
In August 2010, Nichols expressed support for the echoes of Catholic teaching emerging in the language of the new Coalition Government. In particular, he is enthusiastic at the opportunities offered by Mr Cameron’s call for a Big Society. Nichols said that “It gives us an experience of being together in a place that turns things on their head a bit”. He expressed excitement at the potential for the Coalition and reveals he had become disillusioned with the Labour administration. “The last government was too overarching. In attempting to create a state that provided everything, it ended up losing touch with the people it was trying to serve.” In April 2011, however, he was critical about the effectiveness of the Big Society, saying, "It is all very well to deliver speeches about the need for greater voluntary activity, but there needs to be some practical solutions. The Big Society [...] has no teeth [...] and should not be used as a cloak for masking central cuts" 
Church child abuse scandal
While he was the bishop of Birmingham, he had to respond to the sexual abuse cases that were alleged in that diocese.
Among his first public acts in his role as Archbishop of Westminster was a statement on the issue of clerical physical and sexual abuse in Ireland following a government report into the running of industrial schools. In his own words: "Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal. And I'm glad it's a scandal." He was, however criticised widely on the issue of priests facing up to their crimes, where he claimed, "That takes courage, and also we shouldn't forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did."
Nichols played a prominent role in producing the 1996 CBCEW document, Common Good and Catholic Social Teaching, in which the English Catholic bishops condemned the rhetoric of greed in a move interpreted as an endorsement of New Labour.
In 2004, he prominently intervened in an argument pitching religious offence against artistic freedom when he criticised Birmingham Repertory Theatre for showing the play Behzti (Dishonour), which depicted scenes of sexual abuse and murder in a Sikh temple. He argued that the Sikh community had acted in a "reasonable and measured way" in representing their concerns. "Such a deliberate, even if fictional, violation of the sacred place of the Sikh religion demeans the sacred places of every religion. People of all faiths, therefore, will be offended by this presentation."
In March 2009, he allowed the Catholic chapel at a Roman Catholic college in Birmingham to be used for the commemoration of the birth of the Islamic prophet Muhammad with interfaith debate in the college chapel, sparking some local controversy. Nichols defended the location of the celebration, saying through his spokesman, "Christian/Muslim dialogue is an important part of the Catholic Church's agenda."
In November 2009, he "offered flowers at the altar to the deities" during a visit to the Hindu Temple in Neasden. When the action occasioned press comment, details of the episode were removed from the Archdiocese of Westminster's website.
Reception of former Anglicans
On 20 October 2009, Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Joseph DiNoia held a press conference in which they announced that Pope Benedict XVI was preparing to release an apostolic constitution that would allow Anglicans, both laity and clergy, to join the Catholic Church in groups and maintain their corporate identity in new Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans entering the Roman Catholic Church.
A joint statement on the new protocol from Nichols and the Anglican Communion's head, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, was issued at the same time in London. The joint statement claimed that the development reflected "substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition" and affirmed "on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion", including the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
However, Canon Giles Fraser, an Anglican canon of St Paul's Cathedral, preaching at an ecumenical service at Nichols' own cathedral in Westminster, suggested "...there are some – and indeed in both churches – who do not see it like this at all. For from the Anglican perspective, this new invitation to swim the Tiber can sometimes have a slightly predatory feel; in corporate terms, a little like a take over bid in some broader power play of church politics."
Nichols supported the unsuccessful effort to have Catholic adoption agencies exempted from sexual orientation regulations. His position was qualified by his statement during a BBC interview that he would not oppose adoption by a gay person that was single. Mary Ann Sieghart, a journalist, commenting for The Times on Nichols' statements on the subject, observed that "had the Catholic position been more hardline, it might have stood more of a chance. But once Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, admitted on Tuesday's Newsnight that his agencies were happy to place children with single gay people, but not couples, his argument fell apart. Surely two parents are better than one? If single homosexuals are acceptable, why not a couple committed to each other?"
On 10 April 2009, Nichols appeared to shrug off calls by former Prime Minister and Catholic convert Tony Blair, who had suggested the Church change its views on homosexuality. Archbishop Nichols responded by saying, "I am afraid the way the Catholic Church thinks is rather different to [Blair's thinking] and...I will take my guide from Pope Benedict actually."
In an interview in July 2010, Nichols responded in an ambivalent fashion to a question posed by BBC journalist Stephen Sackur on whether the Catholic Church might one day recognise gay unions. The exchange began with Sackur considering the situation in the Church of England:
|“||S.S. Some of their vicars are also prepared to sanction gay unions. That church is showing flexibility. Is the Catholic Church not going to have to do the same eventually?
V.N. I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?
This uncertainty about whether the Church might come to approve of homosexual relations in future was restated in an interview with the Daily Telegraph published in September 2010. Asked whether the Church should one day accept the reality of gay partnerships, Archbishop Nichols responded by saying, "I don't know", going on to contend – in the words of his interviewer – that "the old language – of mortal sin, for example – was... a misguided attempt to motivate the faithful."
Following the papal visit of September 2010, Nichols participated in a BBC discussion in which he stated, on the subject of the English and Welsh bishops' attitude to homosexual civil partnerships: "In this country we were very nuanced. We did not oppose gay civil partnerships. We recognized that in English law there might be a case for those. What we persistently said, is that these are not the same as marriage." The 2005 document outlining the English and Welsh bishops' stance with respect to civil partnerships was subsequently revealed to have been rejected when submitted for review to authorities in the Vatican. At a press conference on 26 November 2011, Archbishop Nichols remarked that he "would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision."
Nichols initially refused to criticise Masses being held in the London parish of Soho, organised by way of special provision for a community of people of a same-sex orientation. In a direct response to protestors he said, "anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue". Critics such as William Oddie, a former editor of the Catholic Herald, have argued that "whole ethos of the Soho Masses is a committed denial of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, a denial in which they are encouraged by the Archdiocese of Westminster". In January 2013, Nichols ordered that the Masses should be stopped.
In July 2011, the Archdiocese of Westminster agreed to host a conference in its diocesan pastoral centre (All Saints, London Colney) for an organisation called Quest, which describes itself as aimed at gay people "seeking ways of reconciling the full practice of their Catholic faith with the full expression of their homosexual natures in loving Christian relationships".
In January 2013 it was reported that Archbishop Nichols ended the special Masses for gay Catholics at a London church. Archbishop Nichols said Masses at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street, Soho, would end by Lent 2013. He said the Masses were not in line with the church's central teaching on sexuality. Gay rights charity Stonewall said: "It is a real shame he's taken away an opportunity for gay Catholics to celebrate Mass in a safe environment." The church will be dedicated at Lent to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a group set up by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 for Anglican clergy who defected to Roman Catholicism.
In 2006, Nichols denounced then-Secretary for Education Alan Johnson's plan to introduce a quota for non-Catholic pupils at Catholic schools as "insulting", "divisive", and "ill thought-out, unworkable and contradictory of empirical evidence". He mobilized over 2,000 Catholic school headteachers in his campaign and the plan was eventually dropped.
In August 2009, he warned that in his view the overuse by young people of online social networking websites (such as Facebook and MySpace) encouraged teenagers to build "transient relationships" that can leave them traumatised and even suicidal when they collapse: "We're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community." 
In February 2010, Nichols was thanked by British education minister Ed Balls for supporting a sexual education bill which would require schools – including Catholic schools – to explain civil partnerships and, as Balls put it, give "a balanced view on abortion... give both sides of the argument... explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well.” Balls characterised the position of Nichols and the Church agencies as an improvement on the previous situation: "To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols in these changes is, I think, very, very important, is a huge step forward."
In October 2010 Nichols made a defence of Catholic prison chaplaincy in a speech at Brixton Prison in London. He criticised suggestions that amid budget cuts the state should only fund a single “generic chaplaincy” in British prisons. He said: "There are some today who seem to see a future with some sort of 'generic chaplaincy', providing spiritual support irrespective of the church family of the person, as part of a package of care and rehabilitation to all ... That is, of course, valuable, and no chaplain would or should turn away any person who seeks help. But where I part company from such thinking is in the idea that a generic approach can ever be truly respectful or sufficient."
Nichols and former MP Ann Widdecombe are supporting a petition to stop the owners of a London pub changing its name. "The Cardinal", near Westminster Cathedral, is due to be renamed "The Windsor Castle" when it reopens after refurbishment. More than 150 people have signed the petition since it was started on 5 April 2011 by the Independent Catholic News newspaper. The pub was named after a former Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Henry Edward Manning. Nichols said that although the pub was originally called The Windsor Castle, the name The Cardinal has a better historical connection to the area and that "The reason why it was changed was because of the great impact that Cardinal Manning had on the life of London".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vincent Nichols.|
- "The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales". London: Daily Telegraph. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
- Topping, Alexandra (3 April 2009). "Profile: Archbishop Vincent Nichols". The Guardian (London).
- "How St Mary's drove me to succeed". Retrieved 23 May 2009
- "St. Mary's Church, Wigan". Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- "St. John Rigby College, Orrell". Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- "St. Peter's High School, Wigan". Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- "Pope announces Archbishop-elect of Westminster". Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
- Elena Curti, "Pastor with a political touch," The Tablet 11 April 2009, 6
- "Archbishop Nichols' Coat of Arms". Shouts in the Piazza. 3 April 2009.
- "Catholic Education and Formation". Catholic Church in England and Wales. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- Pigott, Robert (3 April 2009). "A 'tough champion' for Catholics". BBC.
- "International Young Leaders Network". Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- "Rinuncia Dell’Arcivescovo Metropolita Di Westminster (Inghilterra) E Nomina Del Successore". Holy See. 3 April 2009.
- "Other Pontifical Acts". Holy See. 3 April 2009.
- Gledhill, Ruth (3 April 2009). "Most Rev Vincent Nichols to be head of English Catholics". The Times (London).
- Wynne-Jones, Jonathan (14 March 2009). "Leading candidate to be next Catholic Archbishop criticised by fellow bishops". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Pigott, Robert (3 April 2009). "Catholic Church names new leader". BBC.
- "Archbishop Nichols unanimously elected President of Bishops’ Conference". Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. 30 April 2009.
- "Archbishop of Westminster receives Pallium from Pope Benedict XVI". Catholic Communications Network. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
- Thompson, Damian (2 April 2009). "Archbishop Vincent Nichols is the new leader of Catholics in England and Wales, sources confirm". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Elena Curti, "Pastor with a political touch" in The Tablet, 2009
- "England, Wales get new Catholic leader". USA Today. 3 April 2009.
- Archbishop Vincent Nichols interview
- Archbishop Vincent Nichols interview
- "Church failed to act on child sex abuse". Daily Telegraph (London). 20 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Common Good and Catholic Social Teaching". Retrieved 7 April 2009.
- Thompson, Damian (11 March 2009). "Celebration of the birth of Mohammed 'held in chapel of Birmingham Catholic college'". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Thompson, Damian (12 March 2009). "Archbishop Nichols defends use of chapel for event marking Mohammed's birthday". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Archbishop Nichols visits Europe's first traditional Hindu temple". Independent Catholic News. 23 November 2009.
- Thompson, Damian (23 November 2009). "Archbishop Vincent Nichols 'offered flowers at the altar of Hindu deities'". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering the Catholic Church
- Joint statement by the Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Text of sermon by Canon Giles Fraser at Westminster Cathedral, 18 January 2011.
- Hamilton, Fiona. The Times (London) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article1499944.ece
|url=missing title (help).
- Mary Ann Sieghart reporting in The Times on Catholic adoption policies re gay adoptive parents
- Doughty, Steve (11 April 2009). "Catholic leader's rebuke for Blair over gay rights attack on Pope". Daily Mail (London).
- "Pope Benedict is being shepherded into a politically correct broad church in England". John Smeaton, SPUC Director. 4 July 2010.
- Tweedie, Neil (11 September 2010). "Archbishop of Westminster: 'Pope Benedict is a man of real poise, with an inner peace'". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Atwell, Billy (30 September 2010). "UK Bishops 'Nuanced' concerning Gay Catholics and Civil Unions?". Catholic Online.
- White, Hilary (29 September 2010). "UK Bishops Support for Homosexualist Agenda Based on Vatican-Rejected 2005 Policy". LifeSiteNews.
- Kerr, David (2 December 2011). "Archbishop Nichols responds to critics of his civil unions approach". Catholic News Agency.
- Davies, Lizzy (26 December 2012). "Archbishop attacks David Cameron's same-sex marriage plans". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Britain's only gay Mass". BBC News. 9 September 2010.
- "The scandal of the Soho Masses". Catholic Herald. 16 July 2010.
- Davies, Caroline (2 January 2013). "Gay mass services in Soho abolished by archbishop of Westminster". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Archbishop Vincent Nichols stops Soho gay Catholic Mass". BBC News. 2 January 2013.
- "Archbishop issues networking websites warning". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2009.
- Wynne-Jones, Jonathan. "Facebook and MySpace can lead children to commit suicide, warns Archbishop Nichols". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2 July 2009.
- "U.K. Commons Passes Sex-Ed Bill Forcing Schools to Promote Homosexuality, Abortion". LifeSiteNews.com (London). Retrieved 2 December 2011.
- Archbishop Nichols defends Catholic prison chaplaincy
- Archbishop supports The Cardinal pub name petition
|Catholic Church titles|
Maurice Noël Léon Couve de Murville
|Archbishop of Birmingham
|Archbishop of Westminster