Saturday, 2 March 2013

It doesn't matter that Britain has no 'voice' at the Conclave

Letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols to the Faithful....



Letter to Parishes and Schools
March 2013

My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ

Shortly the Cardinals of the Catholic Church will assemble in the Conclave to choose the next Bishop of Rome, who will replace Benedict XVI as Pope and Successor of St Peter.

Much is made of who will and who won't be present in that Conclave. Some voices are raised to complain that 'Britain does not have a voice.'

But if we understand correctly the nature of the Church and of the Conclave then we know that is not the true or full story.

The full story, or account, of the Church is that it is, most profoundly, a spiritual reality. It is not simply an institution or an organisation for religious or humanitarian purposes. It is more than a human community. Its true life and identity is Christ, the sole redeemer and only one who has broken the barrier of death. In the Church we are bound together in Christ. I do more than 'belong to the Church.' The Church is a living reality that enters my soul. It is in the deepest part of my being.

This is why whenever failures and wounds are inflicted on the Church or laid bare, the pain and distress we feel is so intense and deeply personal.  In the Church we are immersed together in a reality that not only gives us a new identity, beyond every other, but that also fashions us for eternity.

Prayer is one of the deepest expressions of this reality. Prayer confirms in us our unity in Christ. Prayer strengthens us together in the face of every difficulty and deepens in us together the strength of every joy. Prayer is the heartbeat of the Church, which I feel and to which I contribute. Prayer fashions us together in our common enterprise of being the Body of Christ today.

This reality is expressed in the forthcoming Conclave. This reality is the deeper truth of the Conclave. Through prayer it is truly a Conclave for all. No-one is excluded. Everyone can contribute.

The moment the key turns to begin the Conclave, then we take up a very special time of prayer. Whether the Conclave lasts for two days or two weeks, we sustain that prayer. We pray for each and every Cardinal in his decision taking. They are striving to be, first of all, instruments of God, in some ways like pens in the hand of the Lord. We pray for them that they will respond freely and sensitively to the hand that moves them, the mind that directs them. Christ is that hand whose will is one with that of his heavenly Father.

During the Conclave we pray as the Church and for the Church, knowing that this prayer unites us in a common action, a common endeavour: that the new Pope, elected by the Cardinals, is the one chosen by the will of God.

This prayer is our part, our participation, in the Conclave, our contribution to its decision. This is our way of seeking what is best for the Church at this crucial moment in our history.

Do not neglect this task that is given to each one of us. Please make the time of the Conclave a time of very special prayer, in our homes, our schools, our parishes and in the silence of our hearts.

Yours devotedly
XVincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster


  1. Reminds me of Sr. Donna Quinn, who said on CNN, "We women are calling this papal election invalid. It has to be declared fraudulent because it has no women included in the process." The truths of the Faith cross borders and are "no respecter of persons" (Ac 10:34). "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). There are, and quite probably always will be, factions within the Church, but they'll never fall easily into the political categories of the secular world.

  2. It very much DOES matter that Britain has no voice in Conclave - and the reasons WHY are of even more import. His Grace needs a long hard look in the mirror.

  3. Richard,
    Why did not His Grace of Westminster +Abp VN not show his full allegiance to the former Holy Father Benedict XV1- if he and his likes had done so there would have been no need for a Conclave to take place- His Holiness would have been still in office! Same on the all!



  4. It does not matter in the sense that the Holy Spirit is not impeded by the absence of an English, Welsh or Scottish Cardinal at the Conclave.
    It is sad for us, however, that the Scottish Cardinal feels unable to take part and that no English or Welsh bishop of eligible age has been judged worthy of the status of Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.

  5. If anyone would like to adopt a Cardinal in prayer,go to

  6. In an interview with the Italian Catholic journal 30 Giorni [published by Communione e Liberazione - May edition, 1999], Cardinal Bernardin Gantin said he had been "very shocked" during his 14 years as head of the Congregation for Bishops by the "definite pressure for advancement" he felt from bishops.

    Gantin told the magazine he believed that once nominated, bishops should remain in their dioceses for the rest of their career expect in "grave cases," and that a provision to that effect should be inserted into canon law "to avoid a certain hunt for advancement and a certain careerism."

    Gantin also recommended that in the future the rank of cardinal should not be associated with particular archdioceses, but should instead be awarded only on the basis of individual merit. He suggested this would help avoid the eagerness of some bishops to move on to more prestigious assignments. END OF QUOTE

    Bishops could help the Pope to implement this by recommending suitably qualified priests to the Holy See for the cardinalate. Active cardinals living outside Rome frequently fly backwards and forwards on bureaucratic business, when they really should, in these critical times, remain in their dioceses to spearhead the new evangelisation.

    "Cardinalitial Sees" are a relatively new innovation, and the sooner they go the better. The role of the cardinalate is purely functional: it has no theological import (it is not even mentioned in Lumen Gentium), unlike the role of bishop. This is reflected in current liturgical practice. Cardinal MO'C never occupies the throne when the Ordinary is present. Actually, has the Archbishop of Westminster ever ceded the throne to anyone, except the Pope? The present Nuncio has to pontificate from a stool at WC, even when the Archbishop is not present.

    I wish, therefore, the bishops were more pro-active in implementing the authentic spirit of Council, instead of canvasing for a seat in the Lords (contrary to Gaudium et Spes - what irony) and lamenting that the Archbishop of Westminster has not been made a cardinal. Evidently, members of the BCEW are in much greater need of "aggiornamento" than the Holy See.

    Cardinal Newman, a simple priest, was recommended for the cardinalate by prominent layfolk, which was endorsed by the Bishop of Birmingham. Could layfolk today identify a suitable candidate and forward his name to the Holy See, via the Nuncio?

  7. Fr. Aidan Nichols OP would be an outstanding candidate for the cardinalate, in my opinion.

  8. Some of our bishops in the USA could help by serving God and God's people instead of serving their political masters.

  9. Thanks, Richard.

    Here's the link to Cardinal Gantin's interview:

    I hope it gets circulated far and wide.