Vincent Cardinal Nichols’ views on the Consistory 24th February 2014

“The Consistory and the Mass with Pope Francis yesterday were for me first of all a very vivid reminder of the experience of the universality of the Church. I think everybody has said that – Pope Francis has said so himself but to be among 18 new Cardinals from 15 different countries and only four of the Europeans, begins to make it very clear where the strength of Catholicism lies and how important it is that the College of Cardinals reflects that diversity and universality of the Church. So now I sit next to a Cardinal from Managua and he and I will slowly get to know each other. It reminds me over and over again to think of the Church purely from the point of view of Europe is not to see the whole picture.

“The second thing that struck me very forcefully over these last few days is the depth and richness of friendships that the Church helps to nurture in people. The English College was crowded with over 200 – 250 people yesterday – I suppose some contact with me was a common factor  – but there and in the courtesy visits (in the Pope Paul VI Hall)  on Saturday what fascinated me was  to see the way in which people were speaking to each other –  they were catching up, making friendships,  making contacts with each other. There was just such a depth of delight and warmth about this whole weekend which strikes me – sharing faith creates friendships. There is human friendship but when its lived and experienced in this richness of the family of faith then it is really deepened.

“A single phrase I will take home with me is from the homily of Pope Francis when he makes such emphasis on the experience of faith, the content of faith – the business of walking with Jesus  each day.   He didn’t come to teach us good manners he didn’t come to give us an ideology, he came simply to walk with us each day and will teach us each day the compassion the forgiveness, the openness of heart, the patience that we need for the day.

“One other thing I will take back is a sense of pride in the choir of Westminster Cathedral which came and sang at the two pontifical events and young Colin – who sang the Psalm in St Peter’s yesterday, the senior boys chorister.  The richness of the tradition of English Church music {was there for all to see}. It was a wonderful moment. The quality of their voices just echoed round the buildings there. It was a very personal and intimate meeting and a gift.”

Continuing, Cardinal Nichols said a major priority is a concern for the poor. One of his first tasks will be to chair the second international conference on human trafficking which takes place in Rome on the 9th and 10th of April. He said:  “This is a very important initiative to counter the scourge of trafficking around the world.”  The head of Interpol and representatives from at least 14 police forces around the world will be taking part, he said.  The Catholic Church in England, particularly women’s religious orders have been working closely with victims of human trafficking offering them support, safe refuges, help with re-integration or support if they wish to return to their home countries.  In order to raise awareness there is now a Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking – and a patron saint of victims of human trafficking – St Josephine Bakhita, who experienced slavery herself.