St John Fisher: Bishop and Theologian in Reformation and Controversy Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s new book traces the life of the saint who inspires him. He had a statue of him in his bedroom when he was a small boy growing up in Liverpool: and now, more than five decades later, Archbishop Vincent Nichols is publishing a book about why the martyr St John Fisher is such an inspiration to him in his daily life.
Archbishop Nichols became interested in St John Fisher as a subject for academic research while studying theology, but says he quickly realized that the saint was his role model. In his introduction to his book, Archbishop Nichols says there were many themes of Fisher’s thought and writing which have resonance today.
Fisher’s great strength, says Archbishop Nichols, was his support of the clergy, especially in terms of widening their educational opportunities. “He wanted a clergy that was better educated, thereby better able to inform and form itself for its important ministry,” he writes. “And in that ministry the task of teaching the faith was uppermost in his mind. He wanted his priests to be able and ready to study. He wanted them to bring the fruits of that study into their preaching. He wanted a laity that understood their faith and not be led astray by erroneous opinions and error.”
What, asks Archbishop Nichols in his book, would Fisher have made of the Church of today? “He would be dismayed at the public failings of even one priest,” he says.
“He would be adamant about the need for personal renewal and discipline of life. He would be adamant about the need for personal renewal and discipline of life. He would look to us bishops and priests in particular to give a clear and helpful account of the truths of faith in a manner which spoke to people of today.”
Archbishop Nichols wrote much of this book when he was studying theology as a postgraduate at Manchester University in the early 1970s. He decided to publish it after realizing that much of what he had unearthed all those years ago about his spiritual mentor was just as relevant today as it had been then.
St John Fisher is published by Alive Publishing and is priced at £9.99 see www.alivepublishing.co.uk for more details and to order your copy.