This follows a spate of implausible compliments in the Catholic blogosphere, such as "Nichols - a giant of Catholic orthodoxy" (Mundabor), "Dude, Vincent Nichols has saved the Catholic Church by his rejection of the ironically foundational communicologies of individualizing syntagma that result from the concept of Kantian neo-structuralist progressivism" (Paul Priest), and "I wish my hair were as good as that of Cardinal Nichols" (Damian Thompson).
"Go on, you're having a laugh, aren't you?"
There has also been a distressing tendency for priests to read out Pastoral Letters from Cardinal Nichols at Mass, prefacing them with the words: "Instead of a homily today, we have a letter from the greatest thinker of this age - or indeed of any age - Cardinal Nichols. My own humble sermon on marriage is as but chaff in the wind compared with the document in my hand, which will surely be regarded as one of the great landmarks of Catholic thought."
Likewise, when several faithful and learned Catholics who wrote to the Vatican asking whether Pope Francis could explain certain passages of Amoris Laetitia, "because it's all Greek to us", woke to find horses' heads in their beds, they laughingly shrugged this off by saying that the Holy GodFather had "made us a doctrine we can't refuse".
"All I said was, 'Can we lose that infamous footnote?'"
All these distressing signs of sarcasm are now banned, at least in the diocese of Westminster, along with jokes about how God prefers priests to turn their back on Him when offering Mass.
So, it's agreed then? Vincent Nichols is papabile, if anyone ever was.