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Cardinal Nichols: Francis wants us to step off the escalator of consumerism

Cardinal Nichols pictured in front of Canary Wharf at the press conference yesterday (Photo: Mazur/

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said that people should not regard the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, as “puritanical” in its message.

During a press conference yesterday, when asked about the encyclical’s appeal for “sobriety and self-denial” Cardinal Nichols said that people needed to go beyond reading the encyclical in a “puritanical way”.

He continued by saying that Pope Francis wanted the faithful to recognise that when it comes to consumerism “less is better” and that being trapped on an escalator where you “always want more” is not a “happy escalator”.

Cardinal Nichols also highlighted that the encyclical made clear that when we purchase any object we make an ethical choice and that indviduals should ask themselves “do I need this?”

In Laudato Si’ the Pope says: “A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment.”

The press conference took place at Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic primary school in Poplar, east London.

Cardinal Nichols explained that they had selected the school as the location for the press conference as a reminder that we have an obligation to care for the Earth for the sake of future generations but also because the school was specifically designed in an environmentally friendly way.

Cardinal Nichols described the Pope’s encyclical as a a “thoroughly Catholic document” due to its consistency with the teachings of former popes, and because it is focused on the “dignity and the calling of the human person”. The cardinal also described it as a teaching document which is “essentially ethical in its challenge” and encourages dialogue and it is “centred on the work of God and how it comes to fulfilment in the person of Jesus”.

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