Is Archbp. Nichols the “frontrunner” for Westminster?

Biretta tip to HE o{]:¬) for the following article from The Times about Archbishop Vincent Nichols as the frontrunner for the Archdiocese of Westminster, and therefore a red hat.   

My emphases and comments.

From The Times September 4, 2007
Church traditionalist and papal favourite tipped as new Archbishop of Westminster
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster, according to sources in London and Rome.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, [You remember him.  I wrote about him the other day.] who was the first English bishop to receive a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI after the Cardinal, is said to have impressed the hierarchy in Rome with a sermon he gave in Oxford last week on traditionalism in the Church.  [I am not sure that describes it, but okay.]

The Archbishop is on the Church’s conservative wing and is known to be an enthusiastic supporter of the Pope’s campaign for liturgical renewal. He also made the headlines when he stopped a satirical cartoon series about the Vatican from appearing on the BBC. If successful, he will replace [What an unfortunate way to put it.] Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor this time next year, when the cardinal is expected to stand down.

Archbishop Nichols was among the most enthusiastic English bishops to welcome Pope Benedict’s election. According to the editor of The Catholic Herald, he is the only bishop in England and Wales to have enthusiastically taken up the Pope’s recent Apostolic Letter on celebrating the Tridentine rite, or extraordinary Mass.  [Wow.   Is this really true?]

In his speech to the Latin Mass Society in Oxford, Archbishop Nichols said: “Please remember that what you study here is not a relic, not a reverting to the past, but part of the living tradition of the Church. It is, therefore, to be understood and entered into in the light of that living tradition today.”

The Pope believes that the answer to Church growth lies in liturgical renewal [I am not so sure that "growth" should be the point.  I think it is "identity".] and he wants his senior bishops to embrace his reforms. Those in Rome think that the Archbishop has raised the profile of his Birmingham archdiocese, overtaking Liverpool to become the second-most-important archdioceses in the country. [Again, an unfortunate way of putting it.] Christopher Gillibrand, the conservative Catholic blogger, said: “He’s been playing all his cards right. His chances are good.”

Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of The Catholic Herald, said: “On the whole, the bishops of England and Wales have failed to respond to the Pope’s deeply inspiring Apostolic Letter, which liberated the ancient liturgy and offered it as a resource for the whole Church. The only bishop who appears to understand the Pope’s programme of liturgical reform and seems prepared to respond to it is the Archbishop of Birmingham.”

The biggest mark against Archbishop Nichols is that he is perceived as ambitious, although his supporters insist that he is ambitious for the Church and for God, not for himself.

Dr Thompson said: “We need someone to close the gap between the real signs of vigorous life in many parishes and the leadership of the Pope. At the moment there is nothing in between.”

Peter Jennings, spokesman for Archbishop Nichols, said of the speculation: “It is the Holy See and not journalists or bookmakers who appoint archbishops. [Exactly.] Archbishop Nichols does not discuss the matter of the appointment of a new Archbishop of Westminster with me, nor would I expect him to do so.”

Archbishop Nichols, 61, impressed Rome [?] with his campaigns to improve the way Catholicism is covered by the media. He forced the BBC to withdraw the cartoon series Popetown and the Government to abandon its plans for a nonfaith quota of pupils for faith schools. In Oxford last week, he chose to use the 1970 “ordinary” rite introduced by Pope Paul VI for the Latin Mass. In Rome this will be interpreted as Archbishop Nichols being true to the Pope’s view that there is really just “one rite” for the Mass, whether in “ordinary” or “extraordinary” form.

A new Archbishop of Westminster on the extreme conservative wing of the Church would be accepted with reluctance by most priests and bishops. [At the end, they couldn't help but add a stupid shot at the right.] But by using the “ordinary” Mass in Latin at the meeting of the Latin Mass Society, Archbishop Nichols showed himself to be sympathetic to traditionalists while at the same time not being their prisoner. Although regarded as a conservative in the context of the English Church, in Rome he would be seen as more of a church diplomat[A meaningless way to end this article.]

 
 

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27 Responses to Is Archbp. Nichols the “frontrunner” for Westminster?

  1. RichR says:

    This reads much like an American news piece detailing the strategic political moves of Presidential hopefuls. The media is both secular and liberal. Is it any surprise that this news (or rumor, more like it) is reported in such a poor fashion? As to the subject, it sounds hopeful. I bet this will energize tradion-minded Catholics in the UK.

  2. William Cassidy says:

    The Archbishop has always been ambitious, and has simply decided that Westminster is worth a mass. When he was translating the Gospel of the pope’s installation mass for the BBC, he said that “Pasce oves meas” meant “Follow me, follow, me!”
    A true translation might have given the impression that he was – er – traditional or something.

  3. JPG says:

    Grow may not be a bad commentor intention. In the USA where one has seen Mass attendence drop from 60-70% to 30%(I do not recall exact numbers) in the last 40 years, grow may not be a bad thing.
    It is interesting that conservative and more Tradition friendly orders and bishops seem to do just that. A bishop such as this may through clear distinct teaching fill pews and seminaries.I have heard the attendence numbers in the UK are far worse made better only by an influx of polish people. In spite of the rather cynical approach of the article such reports are encouraging.
    On a personal level I have seen families where the Grandparents are faithful, the parents are hioliday only and the children give up the faith. Thus someone who can lead or inspire or allow the Liturgy to lead and inspire will be key to allowing the Holy Spirit to quell the spirit of the age.
    JPG

  4. leo says:

    he tolerates tradition he does not encourage or I think underststnd the need for it .He has never said the Old Mass has he ever attended it? What does he care if a group of eccentric clerics what to dress up it will mean nothing to the parishes in Birmingham or st marys seminary oscott i dont want to be critical of him but at the same time the article paints such a different image

  5. Matt Doyle says:

    This sort of speculation has been going on for a while now. I live His Grace’s Archdiocese, and have been warmly greeted by him on several occasions. I believe his intentions to always be for the good of the Church, and to suggest his underlying motive is to become head of the country is, frankly, mean-spirited. I joked with him on one occasion, and he firmly asserted that all he can do is ignore the pointless media speculation and get on with his job of serving the diocese. If he did become Cardinal, it would be a welcome thing for Westminster, but a loss for Birmingham. Although, at the moment, I think England & Wales need better leadership so I’d welcome the change. Besides, by papal request the number of auxiliary bishops in our archdiocese has just increased to 3.

  6. DoB says:

    This is pro-Nichols posturing. No Catholic in the UK could consider Bishop Nichols as traditionalist. This piece calls him that and then makes out he is the compromise Bishop and the Bishops could just about stomach him but no one more so traditional. He is the preferred candidate for the liberals. He is far from being traditional. Yes, he is diplomatic when it suits. I do not have a problem with a Bishop who is careerist. I would rather he wasn’t but it is a far sight better that a Bishop who is a self-righteous heretic in rebellion. There is only one man I know who is learned and faithful, who could lead the Catholic Church in England & Wales and that is Fr. Aidan Nichols. Read his writings, he should have gone far in the Church as he is so needed but for some reason he has not progressed at all. Ultramontane, I suppose the sherry drinking quaffers would say. Yes, far to faithful. Of course one may give Bishop Nichols the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he is playing jawjaw with the liberals so as to wrong foot them and break their hold. I hope he is.

    I think growth is the right word. Some comentators would like to see Pope Benedicts MP as a means of shoring up Catholic identity in the face of competing forces. What a laugh. It is quite apparent from the Popes writings that he has identified a colapse in Faith, or in less diplomatic language, apostasy. This apostasy is masquerading as faith in our churchs. By uniting the two forms Benedict is draging people back to the Truth. The Truth that the new form has succeeded in concealing. Not because it is not a valid mass (because it is), but because it is ineffective and prone to abuse on so many levels ( as it has proven itself).

  7. Brian Sudlow says:

    Ruth Gledhill is not the most assured of commentators on Catholic matters and, if it were an Olympic event, she could doubtless represent Great Britain at writing interminable drivel.

    One hears a mixture of things about Abp Nichols, though I was recently impressed to see that he has instituted daily Eucharistic adoration throughout the parishes of his diocese (they take it in turns)to pray for vocations. What I personally hope is that Rome goes outside the coterie that is the Bishops’ Conference of England Wales and appoints someone to Westminster with obvious nous, steely backbone and profound piety.

  8. Be nice to Ruth Gledhill, please. She’s on our side and she’s done a tremendous amount of good for the cause. Considering that she isn’t even Catholic herself, that’s a big accomplishment.

  9. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    I remember another conservative.He was adamant about his priests following the rubrics and ststed that only sacramental wine authorized as such could be used for mass.He forbade anyone in a teaching or supervisory position from attending workshops outside the dioces because they might be infected with bad ideas and bring them into his diocese.He also said noone could come into the diocese and speak unless he approved of them.He was transferred and became an archbishop.He then wrote a letter to the editor of the St.Anthony Messenger berating a priest who had criticized the priesthood.He admonished him to spend more time in prayer concentrating on the Liturgy of the Hours and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.He then told his priests to spend more time adoring the Blessed Sacrament.He then was named a Cardinal .He had it made.His name is Roger Cardinal Mahoney.

  10. leo says:

    the exposistion in the churches of birmingham is mainly two tapers guttering in an empty church not exactly forty hours devotion certainly you wouldnt see the parish priest at his pre dieu . The birmingham and oxford oratories have kept catholic tradition alive . The previous archbishop of birmingham maurice C de M was a great pastor who cared for his priests was always charming and gave the midlands a touch of class , he restored the pugin cathedral , the pugin seminary and encouraged the founding of the oxford oratory i can remember he visting my school so impressive

  11. Augustinus says:

    And it was Archbishop Couve Murville who introduced Exposition throughout the diocese – not Archbishop Nichols.

    Whatever qualities the archbishop has, it seems to me that the country needs someone from outside the current bishops conference to be appointed to Westminster.

    If the pope was going to appoint Archbishop Nichols (or indeed anyone from within the current conference), surely he would have done it when the Cardinal turned 75 last month and not asked the cardinal to carry on till he makes up his mind. My guess is that the search is still on.

  12. Dominic says:

    Archbishop Nichols is an excellent communicator. He is a first class interviewee and was great as a TV commentator at the time of JPII’s funeral and BXVI’s installation. He is also very personable.

    But after his undistinguished background before becoming Archbishop of Bham, the nagging doubt remains: is he just an opportunist? I’m not saying he is. But people have doubts.

    Let’s hope that just as BXVI appointed a non-diplomatic to be Sec of State, similarly priests who haven’t compromised themselves by seeking preferment will be sought out for bishoprics.

    Yes to Fr Aidan Nichols OP as Archbishop of Westminster (though he may well prefer to remain an academic than a pastor).

    We’ll know things are moving in the right direction when Fr Tim Finigan is appointed a bishop.

  13. Dominic says:

    Archbishop Nichols is an excellent communicator. He is a first class interviewee and was great as a TV commentator at the time of JPII’s funeral and BXVI’s installation. He is also very personable.

    But after his undistinguished background before becoming Archbishop of Bham, the nagging doubt remains: is he just an opportunist? I’m not saying he is. But people have doubts.

    Let’s hope that just as BXVI appointed a non-diplomatic to be Sec of State, similarly priests who haven’t compromised themselves by seeking preferment will be sought out for bishoprics.

    Yes to Fr Aidan Nichols OP as Archbishop of Westminster (though he may well prefer to remain an academic than a pastor).

    We’ll know things are moving in the right direction when Fr Tim Finigan is appointed a bishop.

  14. Dominic says:

    Archbishop Nichols is an excellent communicator. He is a first class interviewee and was great as a TV commentator at the time of JPII’s funeral and BXVI’s installation. He is also very personable.

    But after his undistinguished background before becoming Archbishop of Bham, the nagging doubt remains: is he just an opportunist? I’m not saying he is. But people have doubts.

    Let’s hope that just as BXVI appointed a non-diplomatic to be Sec of State, similarly priests who haven’t compromised themselves by seeking preferment will be sought out for bishoprics.

    Yes to Fr Aidan Nichols OP as Archbishop of Westminster (though he may well prefer to remain an academic than a pastor).

    We’ll know things are moving in the right direction when Fr Tim Finigan is appointed a bishop.

  15. DoB says:

    Dominic,
    You are right that Fr Tim is a great candidate too. He is very knowledgable, works really hard for the Church, he loves Her with a passion and he is a great inspiration to his parish and the country at large.

  16. Az says:

    “Besides, by papal request the number of auxiliary bishops in our archdiocese has just increased to 3.”

    That’s very interesting (a papal imposition?), especially as the most recent appointee, Mgr William Kenney, used to be the auxiliary bishop of Stockholm.

    Mgr Couve de Murville was often said to be at odds with the Bishops
    conference of E&W, which for many years was dominated by the vice-president Mgr Worlock of Liverpool (d.1996), Mgr Nichols (a priest of Liverpool) being the general secretary for much of that time. Anyone who is interested in the Catholic Church in E&W ought to read the biography of Mgr Worlock by Clifford Longley, which was commissioned by Nichols. Alcuin Reid (author of ‘The Organic Development of the Liturgy’ which was prefaced by Card. Ratzinger) has an interesting review of ‘The Worlock Archive’ at Amazon.com

    Incidentally, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, the present archbishop of Westminster, was, during the late 60s, secretary to Mgr Worlock, then bishop of Portsmouth.

  17. Christian says:

    Mgr Couve de Murville was a wonderful man and a wonderful priest. I am told and (knowing a little about the selection of bishops am inclined to believe) that he was in fact appointed by mistake. Murphy-O’Connor was intended to be made Archbishop their but Rome mixed the two up. That certainly explains why Mgr Couve de Murville was unique in being very much like the preV2 bishops, encouraging of the famously traditionalist Oratories and opposed to most f the appaling Bishops Conference.

  18. Rumold says:

    There is only one Nichols who should be appointed to Westminster and its not the self advancing careerist incumbent in Birmingham! Its Aidan Nichols O.P.For the first time in years England would have a primate both learned, courageous and holy.

  19. Dorothy says:

    The former Father Vincent Nichols was a protege of Archbishop Worlock of Liverpool. This speaks volumes to informed English Catholics.

    During Fr Nichols’s time as head of the Upholland Northern Institute, in the early 1980s, Father Charles Curran gave talks at the Institute on (I believe) two occasions. The invitations gave rise to protests from orthodox-minded Catholics in the archdiocese.

    Fr Nichols’s ambition, and his closeness to Archbishop Worlock, may have led him along liberal paths, but I do not know whether his true character is liberal or orthodox. Nevertheless, his background gives me cause for concern, and I am sure I am not alone in my misgivings.

  20. Paul, South Midlands says:

    Archbishop Nichols was among the most enthusiastic English bishops to welcome Pope Benedict’s election. According to the editor of The Catholic Herald, he is the only bishop in England and Wales to have enthusiastically taken up the Pope’s recent Apostolic Letter on celebrating the Tridentine rite, or extraordinary Mass. [Wow. Is this really true?]

    No

    Southwark already has a parish using the extraordinary rite for one of the regular Sunday Masses and numerous other Extraordianary rite masses. My own diocese of Northampton has recently instituted a weekly FSSP Sunday Mass at Bedford (at a reasonable time too 12.oclock noon)

    There is a connection here. The Archbishop of Southwark is Kevin McDonald, he was previously Bishop of Northampton for only two years before being translated to Southwark, much to the surprise of many.

    Here is his “CV”: In 1968 he was accepted as a student for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and went to the English College in Rome from 1968-1975. He was ordained priest in 1974 and completed his licentiate in Moral Theology in 1975. His first appointment was to All Saints, Stourbridge, in Worcestershire. From 1976 until 1985 he taught Moral Theology at Oscott. From 1985 until 1993, he worked as an official at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome, where he had special responsibility for Anglican and Catholic relations. During that time he also completed a doctorate. In 1993 he returned to England and was parish priest of English Martyrs, Sparkhill from 1993-1998. Sparkhill is an area of Birmingham with a large Muslim population and it was there that Monsignor McDonald developed his interest in inter-religious dialogue. From 1998-2001 Monsignor McDonald was Rector of Oscott College and he was ordained Bishop of Northampton on 2 May 2001.

    I dont know who will become the next cardinal but I suspect it will not be anyone associated with the dreaded Mgr Derek, which rules out anyone with a history from Portsmouth or Liverpool dioceses, although the present Archbishop of Liverpool, Archbishop Kelly, is not afaik a Worlock-ite and may well be considered, although I suspect he is too outspoken on political matters for Westminster.

    Incidentally the replacement for Archbishop McDonald at Northampton, Bishop Peter Doyle, was from the Portsmouth Diocese. He is the first Bishop in England and Wales to be appointed by Benedict and we were rather disappointed that he came seeminly from the Worlock – O’Connor stable. However an internet search on him revealed almost nothing – except an obscure reference to the Parish Church in Winchester holding a quarterly tridentine Mass and the latest such Mass had been celebrated by a certain Fr Hugh Thwaites – the Parish Priest of Winchester was..er. Fr Peter Doyle. (he’s not a traditionalist as far as I can make out but seems to hold a Catholic view that what brings people to God is what God wants, hence the weekly FSSP mass in Bedford).

  21. DPS, South of England says:

    I agree that Archbishop Nichols comes from the heart of the “Worlock clique” that has dominated the English Bishops Conference and done the English Church so much damage over the past 40 years. Unlike other members of that clique such as Bp Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brighton Nichols has shown himself to be a more astute and subtle careerist in that like a weather vane he has gently and over many years been turning direction as the winds blowing from Rome have changed. His pamphlets started appearing in Roman bookshops and he has pushed himself to the fore of public life while other bishops too rooted in their hatred of the B16 revolution have stood back stunned and sullen. I see his motives as purely careerist in that he is wearing “traditionalism” like a hat which he feels he can take off and replace at any time. The bottom line is he needs to curry favour with Rome to achieve his ambition of Westminster and this is his way of doing it. To my mind the English bishops don’t need their leader to be so “outward facing” they need an exemplar and a scholar-in short, Fr.Aidan Nichols OP.

    Where Abp Nichols could still make a real impact on the English Church in my opinion is precisely through his political and media skills which he has so ably demonstrated, skills of which Fr.Aidan lacks experience. My preferred solution would be to see Abp Nichols move to become Abp of Liverpool his home city, and to see the status of that office properly restored to being effectively the “Deputy Leader” of the English Church.

    As Deputy Leader of England and Wales’ Catholics he could work alongside the Abp of Westminster and be given the lion’s share of the media and political liaison work while Fr.Aidan as Abp of Westminster could concentrate on the task of renewing the English Church and hierarchy spiritually and intellectually from within. It could be one of the great double acts if it were given a chance with both men contributing with their own particular gifts.

  22. RBrown says:

    Many of these comments are disturbing simply because they remind me of the various criticisms of JRatzinger. It’s the same old story: Anyone who does not take a By The Numbers approach to the Church is considered impure.

    Of course, there’s also the feebleminded idea that any person who has an association (work, academic, etc) with anyone else must be a twin. Thus: Ratzinger is just like Rahner, or VNichols like Worlock. In this mentality the only possible purification is public dispute.

    There are many bishops and priests who don’t understand that BXVI is not going to be just an extension of JPII, loading up on social criticism and promising “a new springtime for the Church”. Very simply, it is going to take these men some time to adjust to the Ratzinger papacy.

    I know next to nothing about Abp Nichols, but I do know that what we need right now is bishops who are attentive to the direction BXVI wants to take the Church. To me their motive is not all that relevant.

  23. DPS, South of England says:

    At the risk of appearing even more “feebleminded” I feel that I must answer some of these points.
    i) At no point has anyone in these comments accused Abp Nichols of “impurity”; to have done so would be a grossly inappropriate use of language as well as a sin.

    ii) Abp Nichols’ association with the late Archbishop Worlock is neither a judgment on his views nor a condemnation of his record as a bishop, it is merely a statement of fact. It has been quoted because it refers back to a series of events in the 1970′s and 1980′s where men identified by Abp Worlock and those bishops close to him were selected for Ecclesiastical preferment. This is a matter of fact not opinion. It was a process which has helped to define the character of the current English Bishops’ Conference.

    iii) To suggest that anyone’s motives for action least of all a bishop’s are irrelevant is quite startling. English Catholics deserve to know that their bishops will not only appear to be but actually be loyal guardians of the faith, and have every right to demonstrate concern that appropriate people will be chosen.

    (iv)Nothing emerging from the English Bishops’ Conference has shown the slightest “attentiveness” to the direction in which the Church is going under B16, and it is the opinion of many English Catholics that nothing will without a significant change in personnel. It is an insult to the intelligence of the English bishops to suggest that they are just “a bit slow on the uptake”. In their defence the liberal English bishops are at least sticking to their ideological guns in the hope that the B16 era is merely a “blip”. In the circumstances it is not an unreasonable question of Abp Nichols to ask whether the leopard has genuinely changed its spots or has merely dyed them a more fashionable shade.

  24. Augustinus says:

    DPS, South of England…

    … I think you paint a quite realistic and charitable picture of the scene in E&W.

    Our friends across the pond will not realise just how one-sided the current set-up is here. Lest there be any doubt, none of our bishops comes anywhere close to being a Burke, Bruskewitz, Chaput, Finn or Burbage.

  25. RBrown says:

    Wasn’t Thomas a Beckett was also a careerist? He did OK.

    The statement about the Nichols link to Worlock is obviously an attempt to damn him by his associations. I don’t pretend to know what Nichols is about. On the other hand, I do know that there were many complaints that JPII made very little attempt to govern the Church. BXVI intends to try–and it was take some adjustment on the part of the bishops.

    The hypercritical lamp can be turned on anyone. Anyone. St. Pius X? His anti-intellectual drove Modernism underground instead of letting Church intellectuals fight it. Pius XII? Too legalistic in shepherding the Church. Bl JXXIII? Promulgated Veterum Sapientia, then backed down when the Germans opposed it. Et continua.

    And it would be easy to rip apart Aidan Nichols, who was my prof in Rome (and a bit of a friend).

  26. Paul, South midlands says:

    “The statement about the Nichols link to Worlock is obviously an attempt to damn him by his associations”

    No its not – in fact in the same post I pointed out that Bishop Doyle was also linked to Worlock, however fears about this had proved groundless.

    However the link of any prelate to Worlock is significant for the reasons DPS outlined. Warlock was by far the most influential member of the clergy in the E & W Church for many years and it is entirely reasonable to consider whether anyone associated with him shares his views in certain areas. Warlock was an active and controversial figure who did much good, particularly in social areas but, would not, I think have exactly seen..er.. eye to eye with B16.

    That said those who claim none of our Bishops are a Bruskewitz ought to be grateful that none of them are a Weakland or Mahoney either (as Bishop Rifan has effectively pointed out)

  27. DPS, South of England says:

    My thanks to Paul, South Midlands. The situation in E&W is indeed a peculiar one where for many years the hierarchy has been left to manage its own affairs and self-perpetuate and where patronage and “clique” have been the key features.This is why the figure of the late Abp Worlock looms so large. There have been a couple of rare but decisive interventions by Rome (Bp McDonald of Northampton being appointed to the Archdiocese of Southwark ahead of Bp Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth is one such example). I agree with R Brown that B16 is showing a different and more interventionist approach in Western Europe and he knows many of the individuals from his CDF days, but I do not agree as I have said that the English bishops will change tack accordingly. They are quite accustomed to managing their own affairs and will not take kindly to attempts to change direction. This is why significant changes of personnel involving people outside the narrow world of diocesan patronage (Bishops’ secretaries, Rectors of English seminaries, Bishops’ Conference bureaucrats etc.) is so needed.

    If I were attempting to “damn” Abp Nichols (yet again a rather exaggerated and inappropriate term) I would hardly be suggesting his promotion to the Archdiocese of Liverpool. My point was that his gifts as a communicator and as someone at ease in the world of politics and the mass media make him someone well placed for a senior position in the English Church. My concern is that he would benefit (as all his colleagues would) from the example of someone above them whose task would be more focused on the reform and renewal of the English Church, and who would no doubt have some interesting insights into the shortcomings of the current set up. I know a similar attempt was made by bringing in the late Cardinal Hume OSB direct from monastic life to Westminster, but I see the possible appointment of Fr.Nichols OP in a very different light.

    As to St.Thomas a Becket, history records him as having been a careerist yes and indeed the King’s placeman. His conversion upon becoming Abp of Canterbury was clearly a triumph of Grace. My fear is that in such matters we are in danger of putting God to the test if we ask this of Him each time the ambitious acheive their goals.