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No. 6399

April 102009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

Pope sends Archbishop Nichols to Westminster



VINCENTNICHOLS was named as Archbishop of Westminster last week –and promised to fashion an era in which Catholics could find the courage to conquer “new frontiers” emerging in modern society.

He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster since the hierarchy of England and Wales was restored in 1850. He will be installed on May 21 at a Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

The archbishop-elect, 63, served as Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster under Cardinal Basil Hume for eight years before he was appointed as Archbishop of Birmingham by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Previously he served as general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

He was always the bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor but his appointment nevertheless came as a surprise to commentators who were convinced that the most senior position in the English and Welsh Church would be given to an outside candidate.

Archbishop-elect Nichols was introduced to the press by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, 76, whose resignation on grounds of age has been accepted by the Pope.

“I would like to welcome Archbishop Vincent back to the diocese, 17 years after he was ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Basil Hume,” said the Cardinal. “He has many friends and colleagues among the bishops, priests, religious and lay people of

the diocese... I have been blessed greatly in my ministry here and now above all I pray for God’s blessings on Vincent Nichols.”

He described his successor as “competent, compassionate and experienced”.

Archbishop-elect Nichols told reporters that he had learned a “great deal” from Cardinal Hume, “not least about the demands of the office of the Archbishop of Westminster, and I am daunted by the task that lies ahead”.

He said: “I feel a real need to acknowledge my openness to and dependence on God above all else. But in this I am not unique. Everyone who seeks to follow the ways of God learns to depend on the truth, love and compassion of God more than on their own strength. I know that as I prepare to take on this new office in the Church many people will pray to the Lord that I will be strengthened for this task –and that is what I definitely need.

“We often hear of the challenges facing our country in finding cohesion in the face of great diversity,” he added. “Our churches are places where people are from a wide variety of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They come together, work together and contribute together to the wider good of our society. The Church in this country has a great deal to offer and I hope to do my best to contribute to that project in this new role.”

He said that his first task would be to build on the strengths of the archdiocese. He said that in particular he wanted to find ways of evangelising Catholic families so they could draw on a strong faith

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, newly appointed Archbishop of Westminster, leaves a press conference in London

AP Photos

when confronting the many challenges of modern life.

He said: “I think there are new frontiers we must be courageous in facing. Anyone who supports a life of faith has to have a real depth of personal faith and we have to give people opportunities to deepen their faith.”

He said that British society was confronted by “serious issues” of how to continue to accommodate activity in the public sphere that was “motivated by faith”.

“If we banish that depth of humanity inspired by faith then our public services become purely commercialised,” said the archbishop-elect. “Human beings work best when their best motivations are energised and that means the motivation of faith... We are not just buyers and sellers. Put crudely, real social community cohesion will not be achieved on an aggressively secular model.”

Archbishop Nichols was born in Liverpool and was educated by the Christian Brothers at the city’s St Mary’s College. He was an accomplished cricketer in his youth, captaining his school team, and is an avid follower of Liverpool Football Club.

He entered the priesthood in Rome in 1963 and was ordained in 1969. His first appointment was as curate to St Mary’s church in Wigan, Lancashire and he later served in St Anne’s church, Toxteth, Liverpool.

His abilities were noticed by Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool and he was appointed in 1980 as director of the Upholland Northern Institute, where he was responsible for the in-service training of the clergy, pastoral and religious education courses. He was made a member of the Archbishop’s Council with responsibility for pastoral formation and

development in the diocese. He was appointed general secretary of the bishops’ conference in 1984 and ordained bishop in 1992, leading many commentators to speculate that Cardinal Hume was preparing him as a potential successor.

Many expected him to be elevated to Westminster after Cardinal Hume died in 1999 but in March 2000 he was promoted to Birmingham on the same day that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was moved to Westminster.

In recent years he has spearheaded reforms of child protection in the Church and, as chairman of the bishops’ department for education and formation, has led high-profile campaigns in defence of Catholic schools, most notably against the 2006 imposition of 25 per cent of non-Christian pupils on church schools, later forcing then Education Secretary Alan Johnson

into a humiliating U-turn. Archbishop-elect Nichols has emerged as a doughty defender of religious freedom in the face of secularism.

He was at the centre of a highprofile but unsuccessful campaign to gain an exemption for Catholic adoption agencies to legislation compelling them to assess gay couples as adoptive parents.

The archbishop-elect has also been a critic of anti-Christian bias in the media, attacking the BBC in particular for commissioning the satirical cartoon, Popetown, as well as derogatory programmes about Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop-elect Nichols will remain in Birmingham until his installation and Cardinal MurphyO’Connor will act as the apostolic administrator of the Westminster archdiocese until then.

Reaction: Page 3

PAUL JOHNSON The historian defends Pope Benedict XVI


A tribute to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

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Christians in India fear new wave of violence during Easter Triduum


CHRISTIANS in Orissa, India, are braced for a wave of attacks from Hindu extremists during Holy Week and Easter.

Many will be celebrating the Easter Triduum outside because their churches were destroyed in the anti-Christian rioting six months ago.

Their presence will be exposed at a time when police protection is steadily being scaled down and the risk of violence is heightened by immi

nent local elections. One priest told Aid to the Church in Need on Monday that they would go ahead with the outdoor celebrations “even though there was danger”.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Orissa said he had heard Hindu extremists were holding secret meetings all over Kandhamal, the worst-hit area of the violence.

He said: “The general atmosphere looks normal but this is deceptive. [Christians] dare not venture into the vil

lages because they fear being attacked or being forced to become Hindus, which is true in a number of cases.

“We are engaged in a long, drawn-out battle. I am told that secret meetings by [Hindu extremists] Sangh Parivar are being held all over Kandhamal. It is not a good sign.”

The archbishop added: “The fundamentalists have now introduced a new and dangerous elimination scheme – namely kidnap or whisk away someone and murder

them. The victim could be anyone.”

Aid to the Church in Need estimates that up to 80 people died and almost 300 churches were burned down in the violence last autumn. It says it was the most serious act of Christian persecution in the modern era. Six months on, no one has been punished for the attacks and more than 3,000 Christians are in displacement camps, too afraid to go home.

News Feature: Page 4

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Exotic dancer swaps clubs for the convent

Sophia Loren urges beatification of pope


ANEXOTIC dancer in Italy has become a nun after being inspired by the shrine of St Francis of Assisi.

Anna Nobili, who has spent 20 years performing in strip clubs across Europe, has joined the Sister Workers of the Holy House of Nazareth. Sister Anna, from Milan, says she was “inspired” during a trip to the

shrine of St Francis in Assisi.

She said: “I was throwing away my life dancing for men. I was being used as a drug by people who wanted to see me dance. But now my life has changed, I have been reborn.

“I have never given up dancing but now I dance for God. I am like St Paul who was converted on the road to Damascus. The nights were dark, they were filled with evil, with sex and with drugs. Now I use dance as a form of prayer – through dance I enter into harmony with the Word of God.”


ITALIANMOVIE star Sophia Loren has spoken out in favour of Pope John Paul II’s beatification on the fourth anniversary of his death.

According to the Italian weekly Chi , Mrs Loren wrote a testimony saying: “I jealously keep the memory of John Paul II in my heart. It is a daily memory.

I went to the tomb of John Paul II in the Vatican to pay

homage to him and pray,

in order to show my

great admiration and devotion.

“I also turned to him to get his benediction for my family


a particular moment.”

Mrs Loren rose to stardom in the late Fifties with

films such as The Pride and the Passion .



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