The UK TimesOnline is reporting that the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, is the front runner to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster.

If this pans out, and it is still way early, this would be excellent news for supporters of reform of the reform.

Keep in mind that the Cardinals retirement is still a year away, but this is something to keep and eye on. The Times reports:

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.

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 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. 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.”

From Damian’s mouth to Pope’s ears.