Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop-elect of Westminster, was elected unanimously by acclamation as President of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales at this week’s plenary meeting in Leeds.
There were also elections for all department chairs of the Bishops’ Conference. Archbishop Peter Smith was elected vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference and retains his role as chairman of the department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, responsible for liaison with the UK government and also social and moral teaching on a domestic level.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon was elected chair of the department for Catholic education and formation, which supports the Dioceses in providing 2,500 Catholic Schools across England & Wales. This was the post formerly held by Archbishop Nichols.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald remains chair of the department for Dialogue and Unity and Bishop Arthur Roche remains chair of the department of Christian Life and Worship. Bishop Kieran Conry was elected chair of the department for Evangelisation & Catechesis and Bishop Declan Lang was elected chair of the department for International Affairs.
Bishop Michael Evans and Bishop Peter Doyle were also elected onto the Standing Committee, which takes responsibility for Bishops’ Conference decision-making between plenary meetings. The Standing Committee is made up of the five Metropolitan Archbishops, the six departmental chairs and two elected Bishops.
Following his election, Archbishop Nichols said:
“It is a great privilege to be asked to serve as the President of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. While each Diocesan Bishop is fully responsible for his own Diocese, the Bishops’ Conference is our own way of working together, supporting each other and taking forward shared projects and matters of common interest. I look forward very much to playing a key part in the life of the Conference, in which we all enjoy deep bonds of faith and friendship.”
The conference also appointed Fr Marcus Stock as general secretary. He currently heads up education in the Birmingham Archdiocese. He will replace Mgr Andrew Summersgill following the Bishops’ Conference plenary meeting in November.
Archbishop Nichols said:
“I am delighted that Fr Marcus Stock has agreed to serve as our next general secretary. He will bring great experience, skills and dedication to this post in succession to Mgr Andrew Summersgill, who serves us so well.
“Until the November meeting Fr Marcus Stock will continue to fulfil his considerable responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.”
The Bishops’ Conference was meeting at Hinsley Hall in Leeds from 27 April to 30 April.