Friday, April 03, 2009

Vincent Nichols is the new Archbishop of Westminster

And Cranmer was talking about him only a few days ago, bemoaning that the appointment looked unlikely. But the white smoke has been sighted (brilliantly by Ruth Gledhill); the waiting is over. Pope Benedict has googled Vincent Nichols and not discovered a whiff of anti-Semitism or of anything else which might have embarrassed the Holy See. Archbishop Vin may have advocated a few strange policies as head of the Catholic Education Service (like Catholic schools providing prayer rooms for and special toilet facilities for Muslims); he may favour a multi-faith agenda in education; he may be attracted to the catholic celebration of all religious festivals. But none of this is (apparently) too serious: he has been appointed to the See of Westminster, while Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor is off to the House of Lords and to work for Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation.

Cardinal Cormac was to Cardinal Basil Hume what John Major was to Margaret Thatcher – perpetually in the shadow of a colossus and dwarfed by their predecessors’ almost sacred legacy. The Hume-Thatcher strengths only served to focus on their successors’ weaknesses, inconsistencies and unpreparedness for their roles. Cardinal Cormac was inadequate simply because he was not Cardinal Basil. In that sense, Vincent Nichols could not do much worse than his predecessor. But whoever had been appointed, this episcopal role is a focus of considerable internal tension and it will not be possible for the Archbishop to feed all of his lambs all of the time.

Vincent Nichols inherits a monumental religio-political struggle every bit as muddled, murky and complex as that which faces the Archbishop of Canterbury. While Dr Williams dances on pinheads in order to sustain his historical via media, the new Archbishop of Westminster faces the task of holding together the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales which is itself rent asunder by warring factions. On the one side are the ‘conservative’ hard-line adherents of The Catholic Herald – pro-Benedict, pro-Tridentine, pro-orthodoxy. And on the other are the ‘liberal’ soft-line of The Tablet – pro-Vatican II, pro the Episcopal Conference, pro-ecumenism. Both factions in this Catholic civil war manifest their Protestant tendencies, for both spit out their contempt for the other and seek to justify their rejection of whichever spiritual authority (England or Rome) they happen to despise. In the Bishops’ Conference, the ‘magic circle’ (as they are termed in another place) has created a liberal closed shop which marginalises and isolates any bishop which dares to utter a dissonant word of orthodoxy. The new Archbishop will determine whether the Catholic Church in England and Wales can be united, or whether the spirit of Protestantism will permeate deeper and perpetuate the crisis.

Politically, Vincent Nichols enters national public life at a time when a rabidly-secular and anti-Christian government is weakening abortion regulations, undermining the family, threatening church schools, forcing the closure of Catholic adoption agencies, and elevating ‘gay rights’ to a place above religious conscience. Labour has created a public space in which Christians are almost obliged to apologise for their faith. They justifiably burn with a righteous anger.

It will be for Archbishop Vin to find a way of challenging ‘inadequate orthodoxy’. His beliefs are so antithetical to Labour’s Godless agenda that one cannot be in any doubt that the Archbishop will be looking forward to a new Conservative government led by David Cameron. His ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, his ‘Social Justice’ agenda, his proposal to liberate faith schools all accord with fundamental facets of Catholic doctrine. What used to be the faith of the working class has found a home within the broad church of Conservatism. It is the Conservative Party which permits their upward mobility, and it is now the only party pledged to defend their liberties.

England has become the most secular of Europe's large nations. We are in an era in which personal opinion passes for official doctrine, and any Christian leader who dares to cling to orthodoxy is insulted and derided – from both within and without the Church. Ruth Gledhill observed some months ago that ‘the Roman Catholic Church in Europe is in turmoil’:

“Bishops are in open and unprecedented rebellion. Under this Papacy, it seems that one debacle follows another, as sure as one encyclical followed another, one canonisation another, under Pope John Paul II.”

It will be for the new Archbishop of Westminster to help restore theological unity and moral authority to the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. And it will be for the Archbishop of Westminster to confront the increasing secularisation of the nation, for the Church of England has largely abdicated its leadership responsibilities, confusing humility with appeasement.

Cranmer is delighted by the appointment. He looks forward to seeing how the Archbishop copes with being outranked by Cardinal Cormac in the House of Lords.


Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

You say that, ‘What used to be the faith of the working class has found a home within the broad church of Conservatism. It is the Conservative Party which permits their upward mobility, and it is now the only party pledged to defend their liberties.’

At the moment that is questionable. The Conservatives are stuck at around 41% in the opinion polls when they should have by now, given the present socialist tyranny, accelerated way ahead.

Why would that be?

The Conservatives reflect the Church of England’s divisions. The Party is divided into libertarian, liberal and traditional conservative.

It is a party divided over grammar schools; the European Union; mass immigration; marriage; homosexuality; abortion; fornication; adultery; family; sexual permissiveness etc. On every moral, social and cultural battlefield the Conservatives surrendered and abandoned their past, present and future supporters (there is a revival going on in evangelical churches producing a new generation of conservatives with no political home).

There are millions of conservatives – and growing in number – who will not vote for the present morally liberal Conservative Party. A minority will vote for the BNP as a protest vote.

By the repeated surrenders, concessions and smiles all round it has made it a difficult uphill struggle for the conservative moral voice to be heard in the public square – in competition with those howling for recognition.

As Yeats once wrote:

‘The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.’

The Conservative Party is a house divided and a house divided cannot stand.

How I wish it was different – upon my desk has sat an application form to join the Conservative Party, for eleven months.

3 April 2009 at 09:54  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Singh,

Eleven months?

Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Fill it in and post it off.

If you are disappointed by the next Conservative government, His Grace shall be pleased to reimburse you.

3 April 2009 at 10:02  
Anonymous Joshua said...

"Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a while."
William Butler Yeats

Ponder all things and take your own time.

3 April 2009 at 10:24  
Anonymous Sebastian Weetabix said...

outranked in the House of Lords??? There is only one boss of the church, the other chap is retired.

The great thing about the Catholic church is that you know where you stand. The effete so-and-so's in the Tablet can witter on as they wish. It is not a democracy.

3 April 2009 at 10:32  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Weetabix,

The new Archbishop of Westminster is not outranked by virtue of his predecessor having been elevated to the Lords, but because Cormac Murphy-O'Connor shall remain the Catholic Church's Cardinal in England and Wales.

3 April 2009 at 10:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not a democracy

Who decides things like Vatican II?

3 April 2009 at 10:38  
Blogger Catholic Observer said...

This is now official. His Grace will be created a cardinal in the next consistory:

3 April 2009 at 13:05  
Blogger Bryan said...

Huzzah for the Spirit of Protestantism! If only some upstart young UK Priest would nail a list of reforms on the door of Westminster Cathedral, perhaps the UK would be swept with a divine split, with the faithful casting off their Nicolaitian shackles once again! And even more, perhaps ignite a religious fervor amoungst the majority secular society of your country! Huzzah, Spirit of Protestantism! Huzzah Spirit of God!

3 April 2009 at 14:07  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Catholic Observer: Your linked press release says nothing at all about an impending consistory nor whether Archbishop Nichols will be on the list. The release is neither more nor less than what it claims to be: an announcement in the Resignations and Appointments section.

The Pope may choose to make Archbishop Nichols a cardinal if he wishes to, and he probably will sooner or later, but it would be a mistake to assume it will automatically happen at the next consistory.

3 April 2009 at 14:12  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

Your Grace,

what a wonderfully acerbic conclusion - I bow to a master!

I remain

your humble servant

Frugal Dougal
Happy yellow dog of the fens (by appointment)

3 April 2009 at 16:23  
Anonymous Theresa said...

On the one side are the ‘conservative’ hard-line adherents of The Catholic Herald – pro-Benedict, pro-Tridentine, pro-orthodoxy. And on the other are the ‘liberal’ soft-line of The Tablet – pro-Vatican II, pro the Episcopal Conference, pro-ecumenism.

And then there's the rest of us, your Grace, who wish that the liberal wing and the orthodox wing would fly off and leave the rest of us in peace; :(

3 April 2009 at 17:44  
Anonymous len said...

Sounds like the catholic church is getting a good shaking!!!
Pro- benedict, pro-Tridentine, pro-orthodoxy, sounds a bit like
I follow paul, I follow apollos etc.
Thank God I am a simple protestant , and I keep it simple ,I follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 April 2009 at 18:54  
Anonymous Sebastian Weetabix said...

Your Grace, I repeat: the other chap is retired.

Anonymous: as for who decided Vatican II... well as I recall it was opened by John XXIII & finished under Paul VI and it wasn't decided by a popular vote.

Many people, such as my parents, greatly missed Latin Mass. You could go into any church in any country and know what was going on because the prayers & responses were the same. And before some bright spark pipes up "but they wouldn't understand it" believe me, when you have been to Mass at least once a week since further back than you can even recall, you do understand it & you don't need a missal, thanks to catechism, repetition & habit. (The readings of course were always in the vernacular.)

Personally I am neither liberal nor excessively orthodox; it is simply my tribe, where I belong, where I come from. Despite not agreeing with large chunks of the social teaching I find the constancy of the church's position a comfort - a steady rock in an unsteady world. I contrast that with the popular enthusiasms of some of the Anglican communion & I wonder if the C of E stands for anything, except perhaps steam trains & cricket. I mean no offence, but there seems to be no tenet which is not negotiable.

3 April 2009 at 19:33  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Weetabix,

His Grace is a great fan of Latin, and, you may be surprised to learn, Holy Communion is still celebrated with a translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Latin which was authorised for use at Oxford and Cambridge in the early seventeenth century.

It is, as you say, a steady rock in an unsteady world.

3 April 2009 at 19:49  
Anonymous len said...

I think latin was used by catholic priests as a mark of their classical education and as a way to seem superior to the humble peasants.
It is only thanks to people like Wycliffe and Tyndale that the scriptures became available in ones common language.
It is a great shame that the anglican church seems to have run out of steam( or should I say Spirit.)

3 April 2009 at 19:52  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Len,

The vernacular is, of course, necessary for comprehension. But during the period of history to which you refer, Latin was the language of the privileged and elite.

Now that it has been democratised, and - through classical education - its meanings made known to the masses, there is no reason at all why the beauty of its cadences should not be heard again in churches.

3 April 2009 at 20:03  
Anonymous not a machine said...

whilst a mans biography can be a good guide to his view of office, I quite like vin thus far , on channel 4 this evening he was asked the most difficult question on homsexuality and he said "that there was a place in the catholic church for those seeking the fullfillment of god"

This means that the door is open, even though the practice eloqently described "marriage is the only place for sex"

so compassionate yet extolling the virtues of dedicated mind.

he seems a very everday sort of archbishop , seeking for the church to re connect with worshippers .

the above post by len resonates with me , but i see an interesting godly man in vin so far. we need an apostollic church.

The secularists are well prepared for making the case of the churchs previous fierce condemations of sin , led to a form of poverty . this idea was to make the case that "all inclusive" socialist principals were the truth .

It is strange that in a so called modern society , that we can only think in terms of brain disorders and a medical treatment for them.

from the moment of conception , the child is growing and developing , we know they learn in the womb , we know they rapidly absorb information up to 5 and then has various spurts upto the late teens.

i am gratefull for my christian upbringing , pre internet, but it is at odds in this soceity , i talk in terms of prayer and and living a good life , this society is more about personal communications and leverage , with violence as a medicene.

it is strange to me that no one mentions the hololistic nature of the mind "we are what we eat" , how christianinty makes good parents, how church scholls try and make good children and how trying to live an expanded and confident life in the christian faith helps all of us.

I am angry at labour , they have twisted christianity to make it fit socialism , denied its energy and benefit for all, they have chosen dogmas as failings , when some clergy have sought new dialogues.

there are malfactors affecting our society that must be correctly looked at , and we will need our best minds , not an app for a mobile phone. I wonder sometimes if we have broken somthing beyond repair.

iam saddend that contemplation is being relegated to a slow irrelevance .

I read a sermon for the 50s in whic a bishop was saying that "these boxes of entertainment in the corners of every living room would ruin family life and morals " he was refering to televison , he thought it would control our minds and we would lose god .

i feel his sentiment when i look at todays more media intensive lives..

3 April 2009 at 20:25  
Blogger Christian said...

If your grace is interested in ++Nichols views on all major politico-religous topics of today then do read this interview from 2007.

3 April 2009 at 23:49  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
While Latin or Greek, Aramaic or Hebrew may all be classical & one could understand that to the trained ear their cadence could sound beautiful, my own preference having never leared them is for the gospel in plain English, I find that the majority of people find classical language tends to create a void & elevates the gospel into an intellectual level that appears beyond them. I believe that the Church of Rome opposed the translation of scripture into the common language in an effort to retain power over the masses by keeping them ignorant & in fear of the mysteries and mummeries of that particular institution. If the Christian faith is to grow & thrive in these difficult times it must be presented in a simple but understandable format.
However I pray that you continue to enjoy the language in the churches that still use it & do so for many more years to come.

4 April 2009 at 01:08  
Anonymous magik mushroom said...

I have never learned latin ever in my life. One morning I woke with an under standing not of the language its self, but a firm understanding of what it was. Then it just went, somewhere. Sounds crazy, and I don't expect anything from anyone by way of anything. But I knew something, and it was real. Latin has something else. It is vested with something older than waht we think.

4 April 2009 at 01:37  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Mr Sebastian Weetabix

You say “Despite not agreeing with large chunks of the social teaching…” , is it that you genuinely disagree with what the Church teaches, i.e. think it is essentially wrong, or is it that you find it hard to accept, that is don’t understand or resist understanding because it conflicts with what we want to do.

The former (having, I take it been catholic all your life), is wilful disobedience, the latter, well join the club, we accept all on faith and don’t understand so much of it, I mean start with the Holy Trinity.

As an old Latinist you will be aware of Lex orandi, lex credendi, We believe so that we can understand. You know that Jesus repeatedly mentions the paramount importance of having faith, I can’t think of a single instance when he said the same of understanding. Our society pushes hard the thought that seeing is believing. But seeing is not believing when it comes to faith in the Church; believing is seeing. Understanding is not a prerequisite to believing. Don't misunderstand me, understanding is great, but it starts with believing and that is the part where you shoulder own bit of 2x4.

This is something I continue to relearn every day; so many times I get it the other way around. The Christian experience is always faith seeking understanding, and as a Catholic we do not have the Pick and mix option that our separated brethren have, it is all or nothing, but we will never understand without faith.

I believe for most of us we will not understand until after death, when we will give an account of our faith, at such time what then will disagreeing with the Churches teaching count for?

4 April 2009 at 09:32  
Anonymous Sebastian Weetabix said...

Recusant, since you ask, I find bits of Church teaching hard to accept. As do many others. For example, if I murder my wife but am geuninely sorry & undergo confession/penance etc., I can continue to receive communion. If I divorce her, I cannot.

4 April 2009 at 11:57  
Anonymous lren said...

Sebastian Weetabix,
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a very simple message, you will need help to misunderstand it!

4 April 2009 at 13:59  
Anonymous len said...

That should be len.

4 April 2009 at 14:01  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Mr Sebastian Weetabix, it’s a good example if a bit extreme but I get your point. I think then what you are saying (and I am not trying to put words in your mouth), is not that you reject Church teaching, but find it hard to understand, possibly because it affects you personally.

The divorce thing is often misconstrued, would it surprise you to know that as a divorced Catholic one could still take Holy Communion, providing the divorcee remain chaste and under no other impediments (Mortal Sin). The problem is not divorce the problem is adultery.

Scandal comes only if one were to marry again or cohabit with another while ones first Wife/Husband is still alive. This is because the previous marriage is still valid (if not functional), in the eyes of the church, Mark 10:9 [Jesus said] “what therefore God hath joined together [marriage], let not man put asunder [no divorce].” How then can the Church unmake a valid marriage? It can’t. It can examine it to see if it was valid in the first place (annulment) but it can’t go against Christ’s teaching (this is what caused old Henry VIII so much trouble).

So what did Christ teach about the permanence of marriage: Matthew 5:32 But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. -- Note shall put away, etc. . .To forsake for another.

Matthew 19:3 And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away? He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. -- Note Except it be, etc. . .In the case of fornication, that is, of adultery, the wife may be put away: but even then the husband cannot marry another as long as the wife is living.

A valid marriage then is not something man can dissolve, however much we may want to.

So what about forgiveness of sin, either Christ will forgive our sins or He won’t. We know He his forgiveness is total but we also know His forgiveness is conditional on our repentance - there are many references to this in scripture, I’m sure I don’t have to list them. The point is what is repentance? Is it “sorry but I intent to keep on doing what I am doing”, or is it, “sorry, I have every intention of mending my ways and not doing it in the future”? If we want our sins forgiven then we must ask for it (cooperation with Grace) and intent to avoid the cause of sin in future, no one said it was easy.

Should our murderer then, if as you say being truly penitent, receive this full forgiveness or not, no matter how much he may repent for such a crime? Well we know what He taught and nowhere more poignant than with His dealing with the good thief on the Cross. If a repentant murderer is not worthy of forgiveness and that forgiveness to the brim and overflowing then what hope is there for you or I. Do we deserve forgiveness only because we haven’t murdered, of course not and thank God for it. Christ taught:

Matthew 9:12 But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill. Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.

Without doubt this teaches the more one is in sin (ill) the more one needs Christ’s mercy and yes, forgiveness. Can we second guess Christ’s teaching, how then is the Church to understand this?

"Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall become white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall become white as wool." (Is 1:18)
"If we confess our sins, He who is upright can be depended upon to forgive sins, and to cleanse us from every wrong." (1 Jn 1:9)

I am not insensitive to the issue of divorce but we have to look at the subjec in light of what Christ taught, not as we feel, we have no other source. To live fully as Husband and Wife, while still remaining married (divorced but without annulment) to a previous partner (I hate that term), is according to Christ adultery, and I hope you agree in direct contradiction with His teaching. How then is the Church supposed to deal with this, ignore it because of hurt feelings or because society has moved on since then? The logic of the case you site above is:

One repentant sinner – denied communion because it was murder.
One unrepentant sinner – allowed communion because it is adultery and not as bad.

It doesn’t work, why? Because although one is repentant, the other isn’t by virtue if His/Her lifestyle.

The key then is repentance. The action and indeed desire may be to be a good Christian, but what does this mean if not to try and live as Christ taught. Taking Holy Communion is to be in communion i.e. agreement with what Christ and by extension his Church teaches, can you take Holy Communion whilst living an unrepentant life which is in contradiction to that teaching. St Paul wrote

"Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the Body and Blood of the Lord. ... He who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body eats and drinks judgement on himself." (1 Cor 11:27-29)

So according to St Paul, any Catholic who takes Holy Communion while in mortal sin (see the catechism of the Catholic Church #1857 - Adultery in this case), “eats and drinks judgement on himself”. It is in this understanding then that it would be better for individual(s) to refrain for their own sake, not because the Church wants to make them feel outcast.

I understand (believe me I understand) that the teaching of the church is hard to live by, but it is based on what Christ taught, not what is most inconvenient to the faithful. I think anyone can understand this if they sincerely wish to, the hard part is admitting it is right (i.e. based on Christ’s teaching) when we want to live differently and according to our own rules.

4 April 2009 at 17:10  
Anonymous len said...

1 corinthians 11:27-30
"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the blood and the body of the Lord."
This was Pauls rebuke to the corinthians who were using the Lords supper as a common meal showing disrespect.

4 April 2009 at 17:41  
Anonymous len said...

As Jesus was crucified 2,000 yrs ago all you sins past, present, and future must have been forgiven, as ALL your sins were future sins.
This is the Gospel of Grace that the Apostle Paul preached.
" Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord when I will make a new covenant...not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.For this is the covenant I will make...I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, And I will be their God, and they shall be My people..For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.Hebrews 8.
( Don`t keep reminding God of things he has forgotten)

4 April 2009 at 18:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It amazes me that anyone can defend this 'faith' given the amount of abuse, sexual, physical and mental, that these so called 'men of the cloth' have been perpetrating on the youngsters in their care over decades and decades, if not longer. This man's comments on the subject are sickening and utterly lacking in empathy. Calling the people who committed these crimes 'brave' for admitting them is nothing short of sick.

And before anyone says, "well it's only a few isoletd cases," it's not - there are many, many reports of these abuses and doubtless many more to come. Yet the Catholic Church is still staggeringly arrogant in its holier than thou attitude.

We won't even talk about the fact that it's a massively wealthy organisation yet the bulk of its followers are almost destitute. We won't mention the fact that the walls of the Vatican are like those of a fortress, that the wealth inside that building alone is almost incalculable, whilst beggars lie helpless on the streets surrounding. If there is a God, I personally believe that he would be desolate to see that the church places more concern in building material wealth than helping the vulnerable and weak in our societies.

Shameful. And here you all are lauding a protagonist of such hypocrisy...

24 May 2009 at 10:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote (from this very website:)

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009

(The Mother of Parliaments has become) a whorehouse of ill-repute

"the people are angry. We humbly beseech you, (...) to intervene (...) While your subjects endure recession and hardship, with hundreds of thousands losing their jobs and their homes, many of those members (...) who purport to represent them are indulging in excess, while some are guilty of deception, profligacy and fraud. The people have lost confidence in their elected representatives. Too many of them appear arrogant, haughty and detached. They are shameless in their scandal. Their oaths of office, sworn before God and... have become naught"


It strikes me that this erudite and heartfelt plea to the Queen on the above detailed page, in reference to oue politicians, could just as easily be applied to certain members of the Catholic (and other) churches.

I am not expecting my comment to actually be posted.

24 May 2009 at 10:39  

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