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Cardinal Vincent Nichols receives red hat from Pope Francis

Cardinal Nichols receives the red hat (

The Archbishop of Westminster received the red hat from Pope Francis in Rome this morning.

In a surprise move, Benedict XVI attended the ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica. It was the first time the Pope Emeritus and Pope Francis have taken part in a public liturgical event together.

Cardinal Nichols was one of 19 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis. At 68, he is eligible to vote in a conclave.

In addition to receiving the red hat and a ring at the consistory, Cardinal Nichols was given the titular church of the Most Holy Redeemer and St Alphonsus in Rome. The church was designed by the Scottish architect George Wigley in neo-Gothic style.

Westminster Cathedral choir sang during the ceremony.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the needs of the Church.

He told the new members of the College of Cardinals: “She needs you, your cooperation, and even more your communion, communion with me and among yourselves. The Church needs your courage, to proclaim the Gospel at all times, both in season and out of season, and to bear witness to the truth.

“The Church needs your prayer for the progress of Christ’s flock, the prayer which, together with the proclamation of the Word, is the primary task of the Bishop. The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world.

“We want to express our spiritual closeness to the ecclesial communities and to all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution. The Church needs our prayer for them, that they may be firm in faith and capable of responding to evil with good. And this prayer of ours extends to every man and women suffering injustice on account of their religious convictions.”

The Pope and the new cardinals will celebrate Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.