Cardinal O'Brien challenges laity to promote and defend Church and its
teaching and calls for greater organisation and involvement on the part of
Speaking at the 19TH TRIENNIAL NATIONAL RALLY OF THE UCM
(Union of Catholic Mothers) at ST MIRIN S CATHEDRAL, PAISLEY
On 25 APRIL 2004, Cardinal O'Brien asked all members of Catholic Lay
associations to take the message of their faith into their communities,
workplaces and homes.
He reminded delegates that they needn't wait until a Bishop had defended the
Church before they did so, saying;
"From time to time we hear the comment: Why have we not heard anything
from our Bishops about this? . I say to you in return: Why have we not
heard anything from our laity about these matters? .
Cardinal O'Brien added;
"The teaching of the Church and the teaching of your Bishops is more than
clear about the values of marriage and family life or the value of our
Catholic schools - You must hand on this teaching wherever you are.
On Catholic schools, the Cardinal concluded;
"It is up to the lay Catholic community to emphasise the value of (our)
schools with ever increased vehemence by their own words, actions and
The full text of Cardinal O'Brien's remarks is given below.
OPENING REMARKS FROM CARDINAL O BRIEN
It is my privilege as Episcopal President of the Union of Catholic Mothers
to make these opening remarks before the formal welcoming address from our
National President, Mrs Mary Finnigan.
First of all, a very warm welcome to you all here to the Diocese of Paisley
for this the 19th Triennial Rally of the Union of Catholic Mothers.
We have a very full programme today with two outstanding speakers, who are
laymen, as well as an address from both the Bishop of Paisley and the
Provost of Paisley.
Consequently, in my own opening remarks I simply make two points:
1. The voice of the lay faithful must be heard:
In recent years very frequently the voice of the Catholic Church in Scotland
has been heard either by individual Bishops or by statements by the Bishops
Conference of Scotland. I mention three statements produced at this time in
this present year:
(a) The statement from the Bishops Conference on marriage ˜Marriage and
the Family produced for the Feast of the Presentation, 2 February 2004;
(b) The statement from the Bishops Conference on ˜Catholic Education in
Scotland , along with information on the ˜Scottish Catholic Education
(c) The wide range of resources and supporting material which will be
produced by the Bishops Conference for the ˜Day for Life on 31 May 2004,
the Feast of the Visitation. This latter material will coincide with the
10th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of the Family and
will be made available throughout the Catholic community to coincide with
However, I assure you that for the most part these statements will be
ineffectual unless they are transferred from the paper on which they are
printed into the words which you yourselves utter in your homes, in your
places of work and in your places of recreation and shown by your way of
life. It is incumbent that you absorb the teaching of the Catholic Church
handed on by your Bishops and promulgated in these well produced leaflets
and clear documentation.
From time to time we hear the comment: Why have we not heard anything from
our Bishops about this? . I say to you in return: Why have we not heard
anything from our laity about these matters? .
The teaching of the Church and the teaching of your Bishops is more than
clear about the values of marriage and family life; that marriage is a
lifelong union of husband and wife; that there is a wonderful sanctity in
human sexuality. You must hand on this teaching wherever you are.
The value of our Catholic schools has been upheld by the Church down through
the centuries and with increased emphasis in recent years in our Church. It
is up to the lay Catholic community to emphasise the value of these schools
with ever increased vehemence by their own words, actions and interest.
The Value of our organisations in helping the voice of the laity be heard:
At this present time, along with my brother Bishops, I praise the work of
the lay faithful in such a great variety of ways in our parishes. There are
parish pastoral councils, deanery pastoral councils and diocesan pastoral
councils throughout our country. We are aware of the many wonderful
apostolates in which the lay people in our parishes engage using their
expertise with regard to finance and fabric and planning; and they engage
in a variety of wonderful apostolates, sharing their gifts with others.
However, at a time when our lay people should be finding mutual strength
from being together in their various organisations, groups and movements, we
find a decreasing number of our people willing to do this. Surely there is
an ever greater need for professional associations of Catholics “ with
regard to our nursing guild, members of the legal profession, members of the
medical profession and so on, including of course membership of the Union of
Catholic Mothers. There is no way in which Catholics gathering together to
share their views and to be prepared to promulgate them, can be regarded as
against the ecumenical movement. We share so much of our faith with others
at local level and at national level. But to be effective sharers of our
own faith, we must first of all know it before we can hand it on. That is
one of the great values I see in our organisations as they exist at this
However, I know that during the course of the day, these and other matters
will be raised. It is my responsibility now to lead you in prayer.
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