Cardinal Nichols Supports Maltese Directive

So yesterday the inevitable happened when Cardinal Nichols praised the Maltese bishops’ guidelines on Amoris Laetitia. In the Jesuit magazine America, our Archbishop of Westminster is reported as having endorsed the Maltese document, which says some divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Eucharist.

This marks a direct split with the directives already issues in Portsmouth and Shrewsbury Diocese in the UK.

In the interview, Cardinal Nichols says of the Maltese directive:
“It doesn’t start by saying, ‘What about this rule or that rule?’ It starts by saying if this is your position and you feel uneasy, you want to know where you stand, what you ought to be doing, then come and we’ll talk. But let’s be honest, let’s be open and let’s see where we go,” the cardinal said.
In the United States, not all dioceses are on the same page when it comes to implementing “Amoris.” The Diocese of San Diego, for example, said that it will adopt guidelines similar to Malta, while others, such as Philadelphia, has said no changes are forthcoming.
Cardinal Nichols said he is not sure whether a similar situation could occur in great Britain, home to 22 dioceses, but he defended the idea that responses to “Amoris” can vary from place to place.
“Creating space for a variety of pastoral responses is not decentralization,” he said. “It’s a response to the realities in which people live.”
America also reports that Cardinal Nichols asserts:
Pope Francis is “absolutely right” to ignore a public challenge from a group of four cardinals over the pope’s teaching on family life.
My honest assessment is we must remember that America clearly have an agenda here and are trying to put a spin on the interview which will doubtless be as pro-change/ "progression" as possible. Regardless the Cardinal's words are deeply concerned for Catholic Britain which turned out at Westminster Cathedral in force to see him consecrate England and Wales to the immaculate heart of Our Lady. Many whispers were circulating that Cardinal Nichols had seen the light, he had recognised the strife and division being wrought throughout the Church by Pope Francis and was moving away from the controversy to more solid ground.

I was very cynical about that possibility, having researched extensively where he was trained and who his mentors and advisors have been over the years. I think the interview is typically Vincent Nichols. He is clever and a consummate political mover. 
“To enter into that field is actually to step back from the very thing he wants to help us understand, that we have to respond to people and help them in their journey to God and to do so is not simply to apply a law,”
This isn't praise or condemnation in reality but speaks of what priests have always done; accompanied people in difficult situations. However is it just to give people false hope if there is no chance of normalising their situation? At what point do we say that there is a problem? People need certainty in doctrine and gentleness in pastoral situations and this is an extremely tricky position for priests and lay people. For this reason it seems essential to have clear guidelines and solid teaching based on objective realities. To ignore this is to court confusion and to make more difficult courses of action appear redundant. It is basically advocating an abrogation of Canon Law.

I would love to have a serious conversation with some of these people about this issue and try and tease out exactly what the language of gradualism and accompaniment would mean in practice. It seems to me that this is a capitulation to the ideas which have made Anglicanism more or less completely redundant today.

Whilst I am with a huge majority of my Catholic brothers and sisters in expressing great disappointment in this expression of the Cardinal's direction in this controversy, I am far from surprised. This has, after all, been the Cardinal's direction since ordination. He is Worlock's disciple. 

Vincent Nichols was Assistant Director at Upholland Northern Institute (UNI) which opened in 1976 with Fr Kevin Kelly as its first Director. Vincent invited Charles Curran (now banned from teaching theology) to give a series of talks at UNI from 1981. 

The key event is in May 1980 when the infamous National Pastoral Congress (NPC) takes place in Liverpool - swiftly followed by the report "The Easter People" (August 1980).

The NPC petitioned for women priests, artificial contraception and Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics (you may find these themes very much in vogue at the moment). Worlock had been thwarted in his ambition to become Archbishop of Westminster, but his ambitions still spread beyond the confines of Liverpool. So the NPC was his brain child which he intended to spread his version of Vatican II throughout England and Wales. Ultimately the recommendations of the NPC on contraception and divorce and remarriage were rejected by Pope St. John Paul II, Archbishop Worlock continued to push his own agenda, with Fr. Kevin Kelly, Fr. Timothy Buckley, Fr. Charles Curran and UNI as his agents.

This direction has only wrought apostasy and failure in the UK.

What is most disappointing perhaps, is that Cardinal Nichols is clearly prepared to split the bishops of England and Wales over this issue. It would appear that Cardinal Nichols has deliberately gone about undermining other bishops in the conference, using the ploy which now seems the norm under the Franciscan papacy, briefing the media. How ironic given his outrage two years ago following the publication of a letter signed by hundreds of priests, urging the synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage. Priests should not conduct a debate about the October Family Synod through the press, Cardinal Nichols then said. How times change eh Cardinal Nichols?

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