It suddenly became clear to me, as I was reflecting on a blogospheric contretemps in which I had become involved, that Archbishop Nichols has a tabula rasa in front of him.
When Cormac Murphy O'Connor was enthroned, he had little choice other than to try to maintain the position Cardinal Hume had established of "nice Christian Archbishop", at a time when the Anglican Church seemed keen on tearing itself apart. Apart from the annoyingly false accent, MO'C seemed to fit the bill to perfection, but the bill, and his relatively liberal Catholicsm, locked him into a place in the Establishment which I'm sure he didn't want, and in which he didn't fit.
Archbishop Nichols has a wonderful opportunity in front of him, because there are no such expectations weighing on him. As Nulabour expires painfully before us, so does soft political Christianity: it's not really a surprise that ++Cormac has turned down Blairs "'Faith' Foundation" because it showed itself up as the reductio ad absurdam it was always bound to be the moment Tone opened his mouth about it. But the silencing of the Cardinal is the Archbishop's opportunity: ++Vincent doesn't have to go anywhere ++Cormac went or might have been going.
And that's just the public square: what about his own constituency, the Church in England and Wales? It's his for the taking if he will lead. There are all sorts of single issue Catholics who want to impose their own monoculture on the way we live our Faith: (I was going to post a list but you can build your own: start with CAFODistas and with Lefebvrites); but ++Vincent doesn't need to bother with them. Nobody has any hold at all over him at the moment.
His interview about leaving Liverpool at the time when the Archdiocese seized on the Stalinist certainties of late 70s trade unionism, and opened itself for the Worlockian era rings another bell: he left. He knows how to make a break.
On behalf of the Catholic Association of Catholic Catholics for Catholic Catholicsm, I adopt the "sitting back carefully glass in hand and looking relaxed while watching closely for the signs which are likely to become apparent soon" position. The glass may need the odd refill, but I am confident we'll see our man in action soon.
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