Archbishop of Westminster denies the country has no voice in papal vote

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has contested the notion that Britain “does not have a voice” in the conclave.

In a pastoral letter called “A Conclave for All”, given to parishes and schools in the Westminster archdiocese and read out at Masses on Sunday March 3, he put forward the idea that “if we understand correctly the nature of the Church and of the conclave then we know that is not the true or full story”.

Archbishop Nichols said that “the full story … of the Church is that it is, most profoundly, a spiritual reality”, and that it is “not simply an institution … for religious or humanitarian purposes. Its true life and identity is Christ”, he reminded the faithful. He said: “In the Church we are bound together in Christ.”

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During his homily the archbishop said that “prayer is one of the deepest expressions of this reality”, and that “this reality is expressed in the forthcoming conclave … this reality is the deeper truth of the conclave … through prayer it is truly a conclave for all”.

While reminding Catholics in the Westminster archdiocese of the spiritual dimension of the Church, Archbishop Nichols also provided an answer for Catholics
who have found themselves drawn into speculation over the fact that no Cardinal from Britain will be present in the forthcoming conclave.

This is because Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is ineligible to vote on account of his age and Cardinal Keith O’Brien has had to resign from his position because of recent allegations.

Archbishop Nichols said that “no one is excluded … everyone can contribute”. He said: “the moment the key turns to begin the conclave, then we take up a very special time of prayer”.

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