First published by Reaction
Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and leader of England and Wales’ Catholic community, is turning into a prolific author. This latest book, following hard on the heels of Hope in Action, continues a pattern of using theology and faith to explore how life, with its opportunities and challenges, can be approached. The scope of this book is broad, taking in a wide range of issues. As with all Vincent Nichols writing and teaching, art, education and engagement sits easily alongside theology, church history, church teaching and church structure.
This is a personal journey moving from a discussion of the threefold nature of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit through to the more earthy journey of a person’s life, culminating in a very practical exposition of the role of the ordained and consecrated life – from Deacon to Pope.
Unlike the recent book by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Reimagining Britain, this is no comment on the state of current affairs or an outpouring of personal views about the state of the nation. It is a much more sophisticated, and therefore useful, insight into how the principle teacher of the English Catholic Church suggests we approach our journey through life.
At its heart, the Cardinal is powerful in making the case for theology and religious literacy for the common good of society as a whole. It is obviously true that to suggest that people be religiously literate is not to suggest that they should become religious. It is indeed mystifying why so many people think it is satisfactory to live lives of complete religious illiteracy, but that it is a growing trend is beyond doubt. Here the Cardinal tackles the need for understanding about, if not necessarily sympathy with, religion and faith.
As one might expect, it is unashamedly Catholic in its insight. Neither here nor elsewhere does Cardinal Nichols indulge in the all too fashionable non-specific Christian-ness that is so prevalent, and devastatingly damaging, to other Christian churches. As a result, there is a strong current of consistency and confidence.
This is a sumptuously produced book with beautiful pictures and maps and is structured in a way that even the most sceptical reader will find straightforward to engage with.
Cardinal Nichols came to office as Archbishop of Westminster with a strong reputation for being an effective communicator and for being approachable as a person. There was a period after his appointment when the restrictions of high ecclesiastical office seemed to deprive him, the Catholic Church and the nation of being able to deploy these attributes.
However, in more recent times Vincent Nichols has found his feet once again, this time particularly in the written word, with his books beginning to form a considerable and compelling explanation of life and faith. It is a book well worth reading.
Faith Finding A Voice, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Bloomsbury £12.99