"Churches and politicians must work together" claims Cardinal O'Brien in  
homily to City of Edinburgh Council.  

Speaking at the "Kirking of the Council" at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh  
today (Sunday 9 May), Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien called on Churches and  
politicians to work together to alleviate the City's problems. At the same  
time he called on civic leaders to recognise the City's "longstanding  
Christian identity" pointing out that although falling church attendance  
posed challenges for Church leaders - even greater falls in election turnout  
posed huge challenges for politicians. Cardinal O'Brien noted;  

"Between 1998 and 2002 church attendance in the City of Edinburgh fell by  
10%. Meanwhile, between 1999 and 2003, turnout at local government  
elections in the City of Edinburgh fell by over 20%, more than double the  
fall in church attendance!"  

He added that while local elections attracted around 179,000 electors every  
four years, the City's Christian churches attracted 40,000 worshippers every  
week. Consequently he said, the City's Christian identity was "central to  
the life of our city and one which should be respected and reflected in  
civic life"  

Concluding, the Cardinal asked civic leaders to consider among other  
priorities; the plight of the homeless in a city with soaring house prices  
and strategies for dealing with teenage pregnancies where, he asked  
councillors to accept, "the reality that our present value-free approaches  
are not working and consider a return to lessons concerning abstinence and  
fidelity".  

ENDS  

Notes to editors:  

1.Cardinal O'Brien is Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and President  
of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland  

2. The full text of the Cardinal's homily is shown below  


KIRKING OF COUNCIL OF CITY OF EDINBURGH  
ST GILES, CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH  
HOMILY PREACHED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN  
SUNDAY 9 MAY 2004  

Introduction:  

We celebrate the Kirking of the Council this year as always during the  
season of Eastertide. Very beautiful readings have been presented for us but  
I simply remind you of one read in our churches shortly before Easter  
concerning the events on the night before Good Friday. We are simply told by  
St John in his Gospel:  

Jesus ¦ ¦got up from the table, removed his outer garment and, taking a  
towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and  
began to wash the Disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel he was  
wearing ¦ ¦.. If I, the Master and Lord, have washed your feet, you should  
wash each others feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what  
I have done to you .  


I think it is with our thoughts looking back to that episode in the Gospels  
that churchmen, as also those called to serve in the City Council of the  
City of Edinburgh, should be here today.  

Role of Church in politics:  

Perhaps I should begin these words by indicating that my own Church and I am  
sure every other Church supports the work of politicians. We are frequently  
in great admiration of the tremendous volume of work undertaken by those in  
political service “ often at great cost to themselves, their own private  
lives, and the lives of their families.  

While recognising the great apostolate of those in political service,  
however, we must recognise that, as the Bishops stated at the Second  
Vatican Council: The Church and the political establishment are separate .  
A division of Church and State when properly understood is indeed necessary.  

It is part of the role of the Church to propose principles for reflection;  
criteria for judgment; and guidelines for action “ but it does not propose  
˜Church solutions for Society at large. There is indeed a legitimate  
freedom in temporal affairs which the Church encourages. People of goodwill  
can disagree on particular policies and approaches in facing the challenges  
of society. But the Church asks that they always be in conformity with the  
moral law. Christians in particular need to apply their faith with integrity  
to their daily life and evangelise society from within.  

It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that  
there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political  
community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which  
Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own  
responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience,  
and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the  
name of the Church. The Church, by reason of her own role and competence, is  
not identified in many ways with the political community nor bound to any  
political system. One might say that the Church is at once a sign and a  
safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.  

I think it is necessary that if the Church and the political establishment,  
though separate, are to work together each must understand the other and  
exactly where and what they are at this present time.  

Where are the Churches now?  

I think the Churches must be brutally honest with themselves as to just  
where they are at the present time. At a recent sermon in St Columba s by  
the Castle in late March marking the 5th anniversary of the Scottish  
Churches Parliamentary Office I spoke of the previous role of the Church of  
Scotland particularly the General Assembly. As we know in previous centuries  
the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was the nearest thing there  
was in Scotland to a Scottish Parliament. It was at the General Assembly  
that the most important issues of the time were discussed “ and not only  
discussed but the proceedings of the General Assemblies over the years were  
avidly studied by those who took part in them as well as by politicians and  
people alike. As a young man in Scotland I remember following the debates  
on ˜Bishops in the Kirk , issues which interested so many young people like  
nuclear deterrents, and then of course the role of women in the Church and  
in Scotland itself. One might say that over those years the Church of  
Scotland had indeed a very powerful voice. I know that at this present time  
the Church of Scotland does ask itself whether or not that same voice is  
being heard at this present time “ or perhaps even more fundamentally is the  
voice strong enough to be heard at all.  


Speaking of my own Church I would say that there is indeed a certain reality  
about just where the Roman Catholic Church is in our community at this  
present time. Statistically we know that Scotland s Catholic population has  
dropped below one million to nearer three quarters of a million; Mass  
attendance is greatly reduced; and in common with other Churches there is a  
manpower crisis in the priesthood. But as with the Church of Scotland the  
Roman Catholic Church tries to be more fully aware of the reality of the  
present situation. I spoke about this in my own Cathedral prior to Easter  
when I said we must realise that we are now living in a ˜real Church rather  
than a ˜virtual Church, the Church in which we might like to be living at  
this present time. I stressed that there is no point in harking back to days  
of yore when there were a great number of priests, when priests had a  
considerable amount of time to spend on visitation of their parishioners in  
their own homes, and so much was done for the lay faithful by priests rather  
than by people themselves. Reality is what must strike us at this present  
time “ for many decades the Church has been teaching that all are important  
in the Church and that each person clerical or lay has a wonderful  
apostolate to build up the Church and our communities in our country. Pope  
John Paul II speaking to the laity wrote: You have a wonderful vocation and  
there are many and varied forms of mission open to you!  


I think that the same reality is striking the members of each and every  
other Church whether the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church  
or other different groups “ reality is part of our way of life!  


Where is politics now?  

Having spoken about the Church I would also ask politicians to have that  
same reality about politics “ whether at international or national level or  
indeed here at local level within the City of Edinburgh. While our Churches  
may face many challenges, so too do you as elected representatives. Between  
1998 and 2002 church attendance in the City of Edinburgh fell by 10%.  
Meanwhile, between 1999 and 2003, turnout at local government elections in  
the City of Edinburgh fell by over 20%, more than double the fall in church  
attendance! At last year s local government elections, 179,000 electors in  
Edinburgh turned out to vote, representing 51.8% of the electorate. On an  
average Sunday in our city over 40,000 Christians attend a church service “  
a fall on previous figures, but still a very substantial number week by  
week.  


I am sure that questions are being asked about just who our politicians  
represent. How many of our people will bother about voting in a Referendum  
of the European Union whenever it does take place. How many do vote in  
elections at this present time “ at European level at national level or at  
local level here in the City of Edinburgh. We are aware that our elected  
representatives only represent a very small proportion of our constituents.  
I would say it is incumbent upon politicians to ask themselves why is this  
taking place “ just as church members must ask why the small proportion of  
Christians giving support to the Churches into which they were baptized and  
of which they are members.  

I am sure many will question and are continuing to question the cost of our  
politicians. Just a few days ago the cost of the Scottish Parliament was  
being quoted as being one of the highest in the world. We are told that a  
major international study stated that the Scottish Parliament s 460 staff  
represents the highest number per head of population and per elected members  
of the Parliaments surveyed across the western world; and the size of the  
Scottish Parliament has also grown dramatically since the first plans were  
drawn up in 1998. I am sure many people must ask the same of the costs of  
our local and city councils and those at other levels of organisation in our  
country.  

People at this present time are indeed looking for value for money “ and  
they have a right to expect it! Perhaps as there is a need of ˜reality  
churches there is also a need for ˜reality politics ! Our politicians must  
show that they really do care for their people; that they have been called  
upon to serve not simply to rule from on high. They must show that decisions  
are not made in the backrooms of meetings of political groupings “ but  
rather that decisions are open and transparent and come with the backing of  
the peoples who have elected the various representatives.  


A reality must be brought home to our people that their vote does matter;  
that they can and do have an influence; that they matter to politicians just  
as politicians say they matter to them and not just immediately prior to  
elections.  


Ongoing work together:  

I did say that members of the Church and politicians must indeed work  
together and I re-emphasise that at this present time.  


In the reality politics which I am encouraging we must surely be aware of  
the following:  


· Despite the soaring prices of houses in Edinburgh and people  
apparently flocking to buy them, we must be aware of the reality that there  
are still many ˜homeless people and the Churches are often asked to help in  
every way possible;  


· Despite the fact that we are told that our standard of living is  
better than ever before, is the reality not the case that there are more  
women and men lying around our streets begging for money from ourselves and  
from visitors to our City than took place in previous generations;  

· We must acknowledge that despite the fact that various projects have  
been attempted to reduce teenage pregnancies here in our own city, there is  
a tremendous number of pregnant teenagers and increasing numbers asking for  
abortions; perhaps we need to face the reality that our present value-free  
approaches are not working and consider a return to lessons concerning  
abstinence and fidelity, which we were taught in our own youth and should  
surely be repeated today;  

· Despite the love and care lavished upon our parents and grandparents,  
is there still that same love and care being lavished upon our elderly at  
this present time “ or is the reality that many are suffering and being  
abused for no real cause;  

· The figure I quoted earlier of over 40,000 Edinburgh residents  
attending Christian churches every week, represents only part of the 75% of  
our population, who describe themselves as Christians. Our longstanding  
Christian identity represented in this great place of worship, where we  
gather today, is not only part of the landscape of our cities, but for most  
of us part of the landscape of our hearts and souls too. It is an identity  
central to the life of our city and one which should be respected and  
reflected in civic life.  

Conclusion:  

We must face the reality of our situation at this present time. As  
politicians and as church people facing that reality, we must try to improve  
society, we must try to help our people have better lives in whatever ways  
we possibly can.  

To serve is a noble vocation! To serve in politics and to serve in the  
Church “ these are both noble vocations of service.  


May God inspire us at this time of prayer and worship together and help us  
all to fulfil our roles ever more effectively, not only for our own good,  
but for the common good of the peoples of Scotland and throughout the  
world.

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 132 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Statement on nuclear weapons from the Bishops of Scotland and England & Wales

| 04th August 2020 | Blogging

Statement on nuclear weapons from the Bishops of Scotland and England & Wales Tuesday 4 August 2020   During his historic visit to Japan last year, Pope Francis declared that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”. Seventy-five years on from the unprecedented and horrific destruction of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are called to reflect prayerfully upon the UK’s own possession of nuclear weapons.   Pope Francis reiterated that the threat of mutual destruction, the massive loss of innocent lives and the annihilation of any future for our common home, is completely incompatible with our efforts to build peace. “If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands”, said the Pope.   He also reminded us that it is unjust to continue squandering precious resources on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading ever more destructive technology. The cost of nuclear weapons should be measured not only in the lives destroyed through their use, but also the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who could have benefited were such vast sums of public money invested in the Common Good of society instead. The Scottish and English and Welsh bishops' conferences have in the past called on the UK government to forsake its own nuclear weapons.    We therefore recommit ourselves to the abolition of these weapons and to the Holy Father’s call to pray each day “for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation and fraternity. A fraternity that can recognize and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny.”    +William Nolan,  Bishop of Galloway and on behalf of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.   +Declan Lang,  Bishop of Clifton and Chairman of the international Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales    ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org  ...

Freedom to disagree must be protected, say Scotland’s Bishops

| 29th July 2020 | Blogging

New Hate Crime Bill – the freedom to disagree must be protected, say Scotland’s Bishops Wednesday 29 July 2020The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Bill. In a submission to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee the Conference has stated that any new law must be ‘carefully weighed against fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.’ The bill proposes to modernise, consolidate and extend hate crime legislation in Scotland, including introducing a new offence of stirring up hatred, possession of inflammatory material, and new protection of freedom of expression provisions in relation to religion and sexual orientation.  Commenting on the submission, the Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan said;“Whilst acknowledging that stirring up of hatred is morally wrong and supporting moves to discourage and condemn such behaviour the bishops have expressed concerns about the lack of clarity around definitions and a potentially low threshold for committing an offence, which they fear, could lead to a ‘deluge of vexatious claims’.”  “A new offence of possessing inflammatory material could even render material such as the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church...inflammatory.  The Catholic Church’s understanding of the human person, including the belief that sex and gender are not fluid and changeable, could fall foul of the new law. Allowing for respectful debate, means avoiding censorship and accepting the divergent views and multitude of arguments inhabiting society.”Mr Horan added; “The Church believes that fundamental freedoms must be protected, as the right to exercise freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is ‘an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person’ and ‘a right that must be recognised and protected by civil authority, always within the limits of the common good and public order’. The courts have noted that the freedom to shock, offend and disturb, as well as the contentious and unwelcome are protected by the right to freedom of expression, and the bishops have declared that freedom of expression provisions must be robust enough to protect the freedom to disagree.Mr Horan concluded; “The bishops decry so-called ‘cancel culture’ in their submission, expressing deep concern at the ‘hunting down of those who disagree with prominent orthodoxies with the intention to expunge the non-compliant from public discourse and with callous disregard for their livelihoods’. They say that ‘no single section of society has dominion over acceptable and unacceptable speech or expression’ and urged the law to be proportionate and fair and allow for respectful debate and tolerance lest we become an ‘intolerant, illiberal society’.”ENDSPeter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.orgNote to Editors:The full text of the submission to the consultation is shown below:Catholic Church responds to Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill ConsultationJustice Committee – Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) BillConsolidation2.    The Bill brings together the majority of existing hate crime laws into one piece of legislation. Do you believe there is merit in the consolidation of existing hate crime laws and should all such laws be covered?We agree that there is merit in consolidating existing hate crime laws.Other forms of crime not included in the Bill5.    Do you think that sectarianism should have been specifically addressed in this Bill and defined in hate crime legislation? For example, should a statutory aggravation relating to sectarianism or a standalone offence have been created and added?Existing legislation, including existing statutory aggravations, adequately covers offences relating...

A New Lectionary for Scotland

| 24th July 2020 | Blogging

A New Lectionary for Scotland 24 July 2020 Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have approved the preparation of a new Lectionary (a book of readings used at Mass) to update and replace the three volume Lectionary in use in the dioceses of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland for almost 30 years. The current Lectionary was first published in 1981 using the Jerusalem Bible (1966) as its base text. Commenting on the publication, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said; “In reaching a decision about a translation for the Lectionary, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland itself considered the values they would most expect a Lectionary to embody, for example, accuracy, dignity, facility of proclamation, and accessibility. The Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, published in 2018, will be used as the base text for the new translation, it has been accepted by the Bishops of England and Wales as the basis for their own Lectionary and the Scottish Bishops voted at their July 2020 meeting to use it as well. It makes practical and pastoral good sense for the same translation to be used in Scotland, England and Wales.” Bishop Gilbert added; “The National Liturgy Commission has looked closely at the issue of a new Lectionary and hope that its publication will keep the biblical word alive and active for the holy People of God and shape thought and culture in our changing world.” ENDS Peter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.org Note to Editors: 1. The work of editing and publishing the new Lectionary is expected to take several years. 2. A full statement on the new Lectionary from the National Liturgy Commission is shown below. The Lectionary and the Word of God The Church, throughout her history, sets before the faithful the riches of Sacred Scripture to be read and broken open in worship and for use in private devotions. The Second Vatican Council, in an effort to restore the practice of the early centuries of the Church of a continuous reading of a breadth of Scripture,  promulgated a new lectionary for the Roman Rite, with a revised structure and a wide selection of Scripture texts. St Paul writes: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Thus, the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord, in so far as she never ceases, particularly in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ (Dei Verbum, 21). By listening to and understanding the Scriptures we encounter God and understand how he reveals himself to us, enabling us to grow in faith. But we do not listen alone. Through a faithful proclamation of the word of God within the tradition of the Church we benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful who have gone before us. According to the General Introduction to the Lectionary: through his word, God unceasingly calls to mind and extends the plan of salvation, which achieves its fullest expression in the liturgy. The liturgical celebration becomes therefore the continuing, complete, and effective presentation of God’s word. Developments leading to a revised translation of the Lectionary The three volume Lectionary in use in the dioceses of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland was first published in 1981 using the Jerusalem Bible (1966) and the Grail Psalms (1963). It was subsequently re-printed, although is presently out of print. In recent times, English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences worldwide have approved a new translation of the Book of Psalms – “The Abbey Psalms” – for the Liturgy of the Hours. This new translation is the w...

Catholic Bishops announce resumption of communal worship

| 09th July 2020 | Blogging

Thursday 9 July 2020Catholic Bishops announce resumption of communal worshipScotland’s Catholic Bishops have welcomed the First Minister’s comments today (Thursday 9 July) on places of worship and have announced the resumption of communal worship in Catholic parishes from 15 July. Commenting on the move, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert said;“Over the past month, our parishes have been preparing for the safe resumption of communal prayer and the celebration of Mass, which is at the centre of the life of the church. To have been unable to attend Mass for many months has been a source of real sadness for Scotland’s Catholics and I am sure there will be great joy at the prospect of returning.”“Thanks to the widespread implementation of the church’s Infection Control protocols, Catholic parishes will begin the resumption of public Masses and other communal activities from 15 July.”Bishop Gilbert added;“The bishops are extremely grateful to all those who have worked tirelessly to prepare our parishes for public worship and to those who made their views known to their parliamentary representatives and the government on the subject of communal worship.While thanking the Scottish Government for listening to these calls, we would remind parishioners that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended and ask those who return to do so in accordance with the infection control measures in force in each parish, mindful always of the need to protect themselves and others.”ENDS Peter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.orgNote to Editors:The Infection Control Working Group’s Report can be viewed here:https://www.bcos.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/COVID-19%20Infection%20Control%20Advice%20230620.pdf...