New Primate of England calls for respect for public expression of faith

Archbishop Vincent Nichols preaching his homily at his installation. Credit: Mazur/CCN
Archbishop Vincent Nichols preaching his homily at his installation. Credit: Mazur/CCN


During his installation as the new Primate of England and Wales, Archbishop Vicent Nichols of Westminster underscored the communitarian dimension of the faith and that “as a society,” “we must respect its outward expression.”
The installation had more than two thousand attendees, including his predecessor Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 50 Catholic bishops, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

In his homily, the new Archbishop of Westminster said, “Faith is never a solitary activity nor can it be simply private. Faith in Christ always draws us into a community and has a public dimension. This community of faith reaches beyond ethnicity, cultural difference and social division, opening for us a vision of ourselves, and of our society, as having a single source and a single fulfillment.”
“As a society,” he went on, “if we are to build on this gift of faith, we must respect its outward expression not only in honoring individual conscience but also in respecting the institutional integrity of the communities of faith in what they bring to public service and to the common good.
“Only in this way will individuals, families and faith communities become whole-hearted contributors to building the society we rightly seek,” the archbishop stressed.

“Some today propose that faith and reason are crudely opposed, with the fervor of faith replacing good reason,” he noted.  But Archbishop Nichols countered, “This reduction of both faith and reason inhibits not only our search for truth but also the possibility of real dialogue.”
This dialogue “is crucial today and I salute all who seek to engage in it,” the archbishop said. “In this the media have such an important part to play, not by accentuating difference and conflict, but by enhancing creative conversation.”