2014-02-22 14:41:49

Lord Patten reflects on role of England's new cardinal

(Vatican Radio) Lord Chris Patten, who was part of the British government delegation to the Consistory in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, says the elevation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols to the rank of cardinal will have important consequences for the Catholic community and beyond in his home country. Currently serving as chairman of the BBC Trust and Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten is also well known for helping to organize the hugely successful visit of former Pope Benedict XVI to Britain in 2010. From 1999 to 2004 he served as a member of the European Commission and before that he was the last British governor of Hong Kong, prior to the handover to Chinese rule.

Just before attending the Consistory, Lord Patten came to Vatican Radio to share insights into the state of the Catholic community in the UK. He also reflects on recent comments made by the new cardinal regarding immigration in Britain and the plight of those most likely to suffer from planned welfare reforms…..

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Lord Patten: RealAudioMP3

“I think it’s a very important day for the Catholic community and beyond….it’s a great day for Liverpool and Birmingham, where Vincent Nichols was archbishop before Westminster, it’s a good day for England… Archbishop Vincent follows in a distinguished line – I knew both his two predecessors very well, great pastors, great Church leaders, Basil Hume and Cormac, and Vincent will be in that tradition…..(during Benedict XV’s visit to the UK) he (was) a delight to work with, decent, open-minded, very competent, with a good team around him and managed to combine – which is not always easy – a generosity of spirit with a recognition of the importance of getting the trains to run on time….

Bishops, Church leaders, pastors should talk about the most beleaguered members of their communities, if Church leaders aren’t talking about the poor, immigrants, those who’ve been hit hard by life, then they’d be ignoring some of the most important lessons of the New Testament, some of the most important consequences of the golden rule that runs through all religions….I think that what not only the Archbishop but also his opposite number in the Church of England, Justin Welby and others have said is an argument which the government needs to address….

In Europe we have 7% of the world’s population, about 20-25% of the world’s output, but 50% of the world’s spending on social policies and it’s very difficult to make those numbers add up…..secondly, we have real debates about migrant communities across all our European countries, so if the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches and faith groups don’t’ have views on that, then they’re not doing their job….”

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