BY SIMON CALDWELL
AR( Hilisnoi, Vincent Nichols of Birmingham will undergo a hip replacement operation next month.
It will mean he will be unable to serve the people of his diocese during the whole of the key religious seasons of Lent and Faster.
The archbishop, 56, is to have the operation on his right hip on February 5.
He will go into a hospital, which has not been specified by the arch diocese, on February 4, just nine days before Ash Wednesday, February 13.
He hopes to be well enough to be "present" at the annual Chrism Mass in St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, which will be held on Wednesday, March 27.
"I have been told by the experts that I must have hip replacement surgery, and sooner rather than later," Archbishop Nichols said in a letter to his priests on January 2.
"The problem was first spotted four years ago. As there seems to be nothing gained by delaying any further, arrangements arein hand for the operation to take place on February 5."
Among some of the duties Archbishop Nichols must cancel are visitations to the deaneries of Lichfield and Kidderminster.
However, it is understood that the archbishop, keen to keep in touch with his priests, intends to receive a number of clergymen during his convalescence.
Auxiliary Bishop Philip Pargeter of Burlingham will run the archdiocese while Archbishop Nichols recovers from his operation.