Congratulations from us all to Cardinal Vincent Nichols
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has been created a cardinal by Pope Francis.
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, received the symbolic red hat at a consistory ceremony in Rome.
The Archbishop was one of 19 cardinals created during the ceremony this morning at St Peter’s Basilica.
A Papal Mass with the new cardinals – all elevated to the Catholic clergy’s second highest rank – will take place tomorrow.
It means they will be granted a place at the conclave which will be consulted to elect the next Pope.
Archbishop Nichols, the 11th Archbishop of Westminster to receive the honour, said when it was announced last month that he was “deeply moved” by it.
He added: ”The Catholic Church in our countries has always had a profound and loving loyalty to the Holy Father, the Successor of St Peter.
“This appointment enables me, on behalf of all, to serve the pope in a direct and prolonged way.
”Personally, this is a humbling moment when I am asked to take a place in this service of the Holy See and in the line of much-loved Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster.
”I seek the blessing of Almighty God for these new responsibilities and I ask for the prayers of all people of faith that I may fulfil them with energy and devotion.”
Born in Crosby, Liverpool, in November 1945, Archbishop Nichols studied for the priesthood at the Venerable English College in Rome from 1963 to 1970, gaining licences in philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University.
He was ordained as a priest in Rome in 1969 before taking a MA degree in theology at Manchester University.
In 1984 he was appointed general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales and was named Archbishop of Birmingham in 2000 before returning to Westminster in 2009 as Archbishop, the same year he was unanimously elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The Archbishop courted controversy earlier this month when he said that people being forced to turn to food banks in an affluent country in the 21st century was a “disgrace”.
He said the Government had decimated even the most ”basic safety net” for those threatened by poverty.
Delivering the Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Archbishop Nichols said just four of the 15 new cardinals were from European countries and the Pope was “broadening the perspectives” of those who advise him.
He added: “Some are drawn from places of real poverty: Burkina Faso, Haiti and the Philippines.
“The voice of those who live among and care for the poor is a voice Pope Francis wants to hear in his counsels.
“He also wants around him those whose role is to lead communities of Catholic faith in the mega-cities of our world: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Seoul and, in my case, London.
“These are among the great trading posts of the modern world, places where culture, beliefs and values mingle and clash, where enterprise flourishes, where great riches and abject poverty are side by side, where corruption and virtue vie for influence and space.”
Each bishop appointed cardinal promised fidelity to the death to the pope and received a red biretta and a ring from him.
The reason that the biretta is red is to symbolise the wearer’s willingness to give their lives for the Catholic faith.
An ancient custom is that each cardinal will also be appointed titular bishop to a Roman church. This appointment reflects the original role of the College of Cardinals.
It is usual that following the ceremony, there are various receptions held in the Vatican.
These are often held on the first floor of the Apostolic Palace, but they have also been held in the Audience Hall and Vatican Museum.