Archbishop Vincent Nichols: I don't know...

Blogged by James Preece on 5th July 2010

I wish I had thought to say this when I was defending the Pope's views on condoms on TV. It would have all been so much easier...

"Stephen Sackur (S): Let's look at some specific issues then... Not so long ago on a visit to Africa, Pope Benedict said that in his view the distribution of condoms can aggravate and does aggravate the problem of HIV Aids. Now there are no scientific polls on this but I would suggest to you that most people in a country like the United Kingdom would fundamentally disagree with that position.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols (N): Yes I would agree with you and I think that most people in this country would disagree with it.

S. Do you disagree with it?

N. No. I don't actually. I wouldn't express it like that.

S. You think that condoms aggravate the problem of the spread of HIV Aids?

N. No, I wouldn't express it quite like that.

So the Pope says something and a lot of people disagree. Archbishop Nichols agrees that they disagree but he doesn't disagree. Does that mean he agrees? No.


The interviewer then mentions a German Bishop who says "that condoms are a crucial part of the healthcare alternative" and Archbishop Nichols says "I respect his views."

Then he does a bit of downplaying of the Church's claim to truth...

I think the church is misunderstood when the Church is represented as saying we possess the truth and from here on we'll give it to you. And Pope Benedict would never say that. He would say and I would try and echo that we are searchers for the truth.

Then he lays his cards on the table...

I think there is if you like a critical distance to be held between how the church struggles to understand a revealed truth and how a society is moving. If they're too close there's no light. If they're too far apart there's no light.

Archbishop Nichols says that we as a Church need to keep "a critical distance" from society in general. Not to close, not to far.

Is this why he turns a blind eye to government agencies that refer young girls for abortion in our schools? Is this why he has nothing to say about Greg Pope, the retired pro-abortion MP? Because he doesn't want the "critical distance" too get "too far apart"?

His complete lack of confidence in Catholic teaching shines through when he is asked about gay unions...

S. Some of their vicars are also prepared to sanction gay unions. That church is showing flexibility. Is the Catholic church not going to have to do the same eventually?

N. I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?

"I don't know."

He doesn't know whether we will someday sanction gay unions.

That's because he doesn't know whether the government is going to pass legislation making it a legal requirement to sanction gay unions.

What he does know is that whatever the government do, he will be bound by it. He isn't about to go to prison over it. St John Fisher he isn't.

The full transcript of the interview can be read here.