Exclusive that is...to The Guardian. They can have their scoop. Sure. One day though, obviously, the Archbishop will prefer to be interviewed by the Catholic web-magazine of Thrilling Bones...
It takes a lot of nerve to pass judgment on somebody else's moral crisis when you know you are about to face one of your own, but Vincent Nichols is that kind of man. The new spiritual leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales has a reputation for speaking his mind, and as we sit in the vast, strangely soulless study where he will work from now on, behind Westminster Cathedral, he shows why. "MPs have revealed themselves to be fallible and flawed," he says of his new neighbours, their palace only a short walk away. They are guilty of "fiddling their system" and giving in to the "easy temptation of greed".
He says this with an air of sadness, sitting straight-backed in a high armchair with his hands clasped together on his lap. Archbishop Nichols is not monkish like his great friend and predecessor Cardinal Basil Hume, nor bullish like the man he follows into the job, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. He is elegant, even in simple priestly black, and eloquent, but a soft Mersey lilt adds humanity to the package. He holds himself with assurance, like a gameshow host who has the answers.
"We need civic virtue," says the archbishop. "We need people who are committed, not just to keeping the rules but to serving with honesty and integrity and justice."
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