By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 3 days ago
In an article in the Sunday Times (25 October 2020) Bishop John Keenan has called for a Christmas “circuit breaker” comprising a 24-hour lifting of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations, in the war on COVID on Christmas day. The full text of Bishop Keenan's article is shown below:
The recent advice from Scotland’s National Clinical Director Prof Jason Leitch that we should prepare for a “digital” celebration of Christmas, and the idea of a normal Christmas was a "fiction" with "absolutely no question" of a "normal" Christmas being allowed, was dismal news. As it came in the middle of renewed restrictions and talk of even further limitations on how we live our lives in the coming months, it is easy to see why so many people are succumbing to despair.
The government has told us that its latest Covid-19 restrictions are having an impact on the spread of the virus, causing a "deceleration" in the increase of cases. I hope that is true and that it will be possible to ease restrictions rather than tighten them as we move towards the end of the year.
Regardless of what limitations COVID might place on our lives, as Christians we are sure that Christmas will never be cancelled. No matter what difficulties we face, we will celebrate the joy and love, the kindness and good cheer that attend the celebration of the birth of Christ as we always do.
It could not have been easy for Mary and Joseph to celebrate under Roman occupation in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, for soldiers in the trenches of the First World War or for nations across Europe in the post war privations of 1945, but Christmas happened and millions gave thanks that a saviour was born. Christmas won’t be cancelled.
As Christians, we are people of hope, we live in hope and while we take the national restrictions seriously, we hope and pray that Christmas 2020 can be as normal as possible. We will do all we can even in very adverse circumstances, to focus on the re...
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 13th October 2020
Scottish Government urged to follow Pope’s lead and foster “constructive dialogue”
Tuesday 13 October 2020
The Bishop of Motherwell, Bishop Jopseph Toal has called on the Scottish Government to act in the words of Pope Francis to “foster encounter and to seek convergence on at least some issues.” Writing in today’s Herald newspaper, Bishop Toal, referring to the recent Encyclical released by the Pope says;
“I hope the government will continue to foster encounter and to seek convergence by listening to concerns raised by many about a piece of proposed legislation.”
The bishop goes on to urge further amendments to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, following the recent decision by the Justice Secretary to amend the Bill so as to raise the criminal threshold of the controversial stirring up offences from a ‘likelihood’ to stir up hatred to ‘intent’ to stir up hatred.
Bishop Toal comments;
“the Catholic Church will continue to argue for further change to this legislation to include; more equitable and robust freedom of expression provisions; greater clarity around the definitions of ‘hatred’, ‘abusive’ and ‘insulting’ which remain precariously vague”
The bishop also calls on the Scottish Government to “address the outstanding concerns of many, that religious texts, books and social media messages expressing certain views could be considered ‘abusive’ under the proposed law and act to protect freedom of expression and people’s right to be themselves and to be different.”
Peter KearneyDirectorCatholic Media Office07968 email@example.com
Note to Editors:
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 05th October 2020
Scotland’s Catholic Bishops say, high standards of infection control mean public worship and parish life can carry on.
Monday 5 October 2020
In a letter sent to Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes, the bishops of Scotland urge the catholic community to maintain their “meticulous” infection control and safety measures. The letter points out, that the rate of Covid-19 infections is on the rise across Scotland and public anxiety is increasing, asking priests and parishioners, to “persevere in our efforts to reduce the risk of transmission and to ensure that our parishes and communities adhere to all infection control measures that have been put in place.”
Commenting on the letter, Bishop John Keenan, Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said;
“The tireless work of priests, parishioners and volunteers have ensured that Catholic churches are among the safest places for people to attend in the midst of this Pandemic. The bishops are urging everyone to redouble their efforts to reduce the risk of transmission and ensure that we all adhere to the infection control measures that we have put in place.”
Bishop Keenan added:
“Although no evidence has emerged of cases or clusters connected to our churches, we have every confidence that, if parishes continue their high standards of infection control, then public worship and parish life can carry on and we will continue to be able to attend to the spiritual welfare of the nation.”
“Among the many terrible effects of this pandemic is a surge in cases of depression, hopelessness and suicide. The loss of normality in all its facets has left many feeling bereft and desolate, in need of spiritual solace, like never before. It is in times of greatest peril that we need the spiritual comfort of public worship most, now, more than ever, our church doors need to be open, so that worshipping in safety can continue.”
Peter Kearney Director Catholic Me...
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 21st September 2020
BCOS Meeting 7 September 2020
The meeting was held over two sessions via Teams. All members of the Bishops’ Conference participated. Sir Harry Burns contributed for a part of the morning session which addressed in detail the implications of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on places of worship.
In his contribution, Sir Harry advised that the existing limits on maximum attendance of 50 for Mass and 20 for Weddings and Funerals were without scientific foundation and he could see no logical reason for them. Following a wide-ranging discussion on this, it was clear that this perspective was unanimously held. Sir Harry advised that he would raise the matter with officials and ministers in the coming days and report back to the conference. (Other representatives of the Conference have raised similar points). He also spoke of the possible trajectory of the virus over the next few months, advising that the concerns of the Government’s scientific advisors, were that a rise in positive tests among younger people, who are unlikely to require hospitalisation, at present could in the coming weeks spread to the elderly and vulnerable, with serious consequences for the NHS. He updated the bishops on progress being made towards a vaccine and suggested the timescales involved were likely to mean a viable vaccine could be available by December for use early in 2021.
The bishops thanked Sir Harry for his contributions and advice.
Archbishop Cushley updated the conference on the ongoing discussions about the disposal of assets belonging to ACTS. He described three options which had been tabled at a previous meeting of the successor body to ACTS, the Scottish Christian Leaders Forum (SCLF) after some debate a fourth option was proposed and received wide support, it was that any remaining funds be dispersed on a pro rata basis to the founding members of ACTS. Archbishop Cushley undertook to take this position back to the SCLF.