Vincent Nichols to become Cardinal

PA

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, is to be made a Cardinal by Pope Francis.

Archbishop Nichols said he was "deeply moved" by the news.

"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," he said.

"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."

Archbishop Nichols will be appointed at the next consistory of Cardinals at the Vatican on 22 February.

He and 19 other senior clerics from around the world are the first to be made Cardinals since Pope Francis' election last year.

Archbishop Nichols has been Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales since 2009.

When he becomes Cardinal, he will be eligible to become part of the secret Conclave in charge of electing the next Pope, unlike his British counterpart, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor who is over the age of 80.

Another British Cardinal, Keith O'Brien in Scotland, stood down last year following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Born in Crosby, Liverpool, on 8 November 1945, Vincent 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 priest in Rome on 21 December 1969 for the Archdiocese of Liverpool. In January 1984, he was appointed general secretary of the Bishops' Conference in England & Wales. From 1989 to 1996 he was moderator of the Steering Committee of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop to Westminster, with responsibility for North London, on 24 January 1992 by Blessed John Paul II. He was named Archbishop of Birmingham in February 2000 before returning to Westminster in 2009 as Archbishop, taking over from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who had reached the retirement age of 75.

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